ThesisPDF Available

Assess the Democidal Acts of Violence Conducted by the Israeli Defence Forces During the Great March of Return

Authors:

Abstract

After examining an extensive collection of primary and secondary Israeli, Palestinian and international sources from organisations and institutions such as Al-Mezan, B’Tselem, the United Nations and the International Criminal Court, this paper propagates the notion that throughout the Great March of Return, the Israeli military had indiscriminately killed innocent Palestinian men, women, paramedics, journalists and children with intent. Thus, this study argues that the excessive force specifically exerted by the highly-skilled Israeli snipers stationed by the separation fence near Gaza, constitutes as an act of democide.
Assess the Democidal acts of Violence
Conducted by the
Israeli Defence Forces
During the Great March of Return
Published by Ibrahim Haytham Abdul-Menem Z. Abul-Essad
Masters in Middle Eastern Studies
Word Count: 21,787
Declaration of originality
By submitting this assignment, I certify that:
this work has been drafted by me without any assistance from others (not applicable to
group work);
I have not copied submitted work from other students
I have not used sources that are not allowed by the course instructors, and I have clearly
referenced all sources (either from a printed source, internet or any other source) used in the
work in accordance with the course requirements and the indications of the course
instructors;
this work has not been previously used for other courses in the programme or for course of
another programme or university unless explicitly allowed by the course instructors.
I understand that any false claim in respect to this work will result in disciplinary action in
accordance with university regulations and the programme regulations, and that any false
claim will be reported to the Board of Examiners. Disciplinary measures can result in
exclusion from the course and/or the programme.
I understand that my work may be checked for plagiarism, by the use of plagiarism detection
software as well as through other measures taken by the university to prevent and check on
fraud and plagiarism.
I understand and endorse the significance of the prevention of fraud and I acknowledge that
in case of (gross) fraud the Board of Examiners could declare the examination invalid, which
may have consequences for all students.
Name: Ibrahim Haytham Abdul-Menem Zeki Abul-Essad
Date: 05/01/2021
Acknowledgments:
The author of this thesis is sincerely grateful to all the persons that have made it possible for me to
finish this piece of work. First and foremost, I would like to specifically thank my mother for the
continuous support and effort she has dedicated towards my individual progress, not only during my
time in higher education, but also throughout my upbringing. I submit this thesis on your behalf. My
physical presence at Leiden University would not have been possible without your patience, love,
support and encouragement.
Lastly, I would like to express my gratitude to my mentor at Leiden University, Dr. Sai P. Englert.
You have academically assisted me throughout my time as a student and thus would like to thank you
for your efforts.
Contents Page
List of Images, Graphs & Tables……………………………………….Page 1
List of Acronyms and Abbreviations…………………………………….. Page 2
Abstract……………………………………………………………………Page 3
Introduction………………………………….……………………….........Page 4
Chapter 1: Literature Review……………………………………………...Page 8
Chapter 2: The Gaza Strip……………………………………………..…Page 14
Chapter 3: The Great March of Return…….………………………...…. Page 21
Chapter 4: Journalists, Paramedics & Children
4.1: Yaser Murtaja……………………………………………..… Page 35
4.2: Razan Ashraf Abdul Qadir al-Najjar…………………...…… Page 43
4.3: Ahmad Misabah Abu Tyour.…………………………...…… Page 52
Conclusion……………………………………………………………… Page 60
Bibliography……………………………………………………………..Page 63
Page 1
List of Images, Graphs & Tables
Image 1. Geographic location of the Access Restricted Areas in the Gaza Strip…..Page 17
Image 2. Information written on leaflets airdropped by the Israeli Defence Forces into the
Gaza Strip……………………………………………………………………….….Page 25
Image 3. Photograph portraying Palestinians demonstrators and the Israeli military by the
separation fence in the context of the Great March of Return …………...…….Page 27
Image 4. Yaser Murtaja……………………………………………………………..………..Page 35
Image 5. Razan al-Najjar…………………………………………………………….……..Page 43
Image 6. Ahmad Misabah Abu Tyour………………………………………………....Page 52
Graph 1. Total number of injuries to journalists during the Great March of Return between
March 30th 31st December 2018…………………………………………….Page 40
Graph 2. Total number of Injuries to health workers during the Great March of Return
between March 30th 31st December 2018…………………………...............Page 49
Graph 3. Total number of injuries to children during the Great March of Return between
March 30th 31st December 2018………………………………………….....Page 56
Table 1. Total number of and injuries during Great March of Return between
30th March 31st December 2018………………………………………….....Page 31
Table 2. Total number of children killed within Israeli military offensives in the Gaza Strip
since 2008……………………………………………………………………………...Page 59
Page 2
List of Acronyms and Abbreviations
Access restricted Areas ARA
Defense for Children International Palestine DCIP
Israeli Security Forces ISF
Israeli Defence Forces IDF
Great March of Return GMR
Human Rights Watch - HRW
New York Times NYT
Non-Governmental Organisation - NGO
Committee to Protect Journalists CPJ
United Nations UN
United Nations Human Rights Council UNHRC
Keywords: Children. Democide. Gaza. Great March of Return. Hamas. Israel
Defence Force. Journalists. Paramedics. Operation Protective Edge. Separation
fence.
Page 3
Abstract
After examining an extensive collection of primary and secondary Israeli,
Palestinian and international sources from organisations and institutions such
as Al-Mezan, B’Tselem, the United Nations and the International Criminal
Court, this paper propagates the notion that throughout the Great March of
Return, the Israeli military had indiscriminately killed innocent Palestinian
men, women, paramedics, journalists and children with intent. Thus, this study
argues that the excessive force specifically exerted by the highly-skilled Israeli
snipers stationed by the separation fence near Gaza, constitutes as an act of
democide.
Page 4
Introduction
I think it only makes sense to seek out and identify structures of authority, hierarchy, and
domination in every aspect of life, and to challenge them; unless a justification for them
can be given, they are illegitimate, and should be dismantled, to increase the scope of
human freedom.
Noam Chomsky.
1
The Great March of Return (GMR) began on March 30th 2018. On this day, the residents in
Gaza congregated alongside the 1949 armistice line which separates the Zionist state from
this coastal enclave. Collectively, thousands of Palestinians protested against the
humanitarian conditions caused by Israel’s internationally condemned military blockade,
whilst also demanding the right to return to their ancestral homelands.
Within a year alone, over one hundred and fifty unarmed Palestinians, including “journalists
and health workers….children, women and persons with disabilities,” had been fatally shot
by highly-skilled Israeli snipers stationed alongside the fence that separates Gaza from the
state of Israel.
2
,
3
The disproportionate level of violence exerted by the Israeli Defence Force
(IDF) throughout the GMR constitutes as an act of democide, a concept defined by Rudolph
Rummel as the “intentional killing of an unarmed or disarmed person by government agents
acting in their authoritative capacity and pursuant to government policy or high command.”
4
This research project presents a nuanced argument propagating the notion that the Israeli
military had indiscriminately killed unarmed Palestinians throughout the GMR. By analysing
over one hundred and twenty primary and secondary, qualitative and quantitative sources,
this study addresses the gap within the pre-existing literature that ultimately fails to discuss
1
Kevin Doyle. ‘Noam Chomsky on Anarchism, Marxism & Hope for the Future - Interview.’ Workers Solidarity
Movement. 1996. Accessed on September 1st 2020. https://www.wsm.ie/c/noam-chomsky-anarchism-marxism-future-
interview.
2
Noa Landau. ‘UN Council: Israel Intentionally Shot Children and Journalists in Gaza.’ Defend Democracy Press. February
28th 2019. Accessed on September 15th 2020.
https://www.defenddemocracy.press/un-council-israel-intentionally-shot-children-and-journalists-in-gaza/.
3
United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Report of the detailed findings of the independent international
Commission of inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. OHCHR. March 18th 2019. p. 199.
https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session40/Documents/A_HRC_40_74_CRP2.pdf.
4
Nils P. Gleditsch. R.J. Rummel: An Assessment of His Many Contributions. Basingstoke: Springer. January 2017. p. 112.
Page 5
the exact form of political violence exerted by the IDF, specifically against the residents of
Gaza.
Ultimately, by using a contemporary case study such as the GMR, this research paper
illuminates the democidal characteristics that are prevalent within the IDF’s military policies
that regulate the lives of Palestinians residing in the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, the significance
of this research project lies in its ability to revitalise our understanding regarding Rudolph
Rummel’s work on democide, by tying a recent case study to a twentieth century theoretical
concept.
This paper begins with a review analysing the pre-existing literature available on the
theoretical concept of democide. This is followed by a discussion on the scholarly work
produced by the leading academics that have analysed Israel’s military policies towards
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. By doing so, this chapter will expose an evident gap within the
existing literature, highlighting how the written publications available fails to address the
specific form of political violence exerted by the Israeli military against the inhabitants of
Gaza.
Chapter two provides a broad overview on the socio-economic and political conditions within
the Gaza Strip since 2005. It begins by assessing the impact of Israel’s military blockade
upon the region and explores how it restricts the inhabitants freedom of movement. Next,
this chapter examines the panoply of military campaigns conducted by the IDF since the
democratic election of Hamas, which consequently exacerbated the humanitarian and
ecological crisis that continues to mutate in the region. With the intent to contextualise the
emergence of the GMR, this chapter informs the reader how the IDF, via the imposition of a
military siege which regulates the movement of people on the land, in the air and by the sea
surrounding the Strip, had committed an act of democide.
Chapter three analyses the formation of the GMR, in order to understand the character/nature
of the protest. In addition, this section discusses Israel’s rules and methods of physical
engagement, whilst also documenting the IDF’s armed response on both March 30th and May
14th, 2018, two significant dates that illuminated the democidal characteristics embedded
within the Israeli military’s response. This chapter ends with a general examination,
Page 6
analysing the legitimacy of the IDF’s armed reaction, followed by a discussion assessing the
acts of democide committed throughout this civil protest.
Chapter four is broken into three sub-chapters, with each section assessing an individual act
of democide committed by the Israeli military during the GMR. It begins with the case study
of Yaser Abd Al-Rahman Murtaja, a thirty-year-old journalist who was fatally shot in his
abdomen by an Israeli sniper on April 6th 2018, despite wearing a protective vest with the
words “PRESS” emblazed in bold. This study will then move onto discussing the death of
Razan Ashraf Abdul Qadir al-Najjar, a twenty-one-year-old paramedic who was killed by a
bullet which had pierced her aorta artery despite wearing a white medical uniform, on June
1st 2018. And lastly, this section addresses the killing of Ahmad Misabah Abu Tyour, a
sixteen-year-old boy who was struck by a bullet on September 7th 2018 which ultimately
paved a trajectory towards his femoral artery, after waving his hands towards an Israeli
sniper.
While cross-referencing to Operation Protective Edge (2014), this chapter exposes the acts of
democide committed by the IDF over the years, specifically against medical officials, media
correspondents and Palestinians under the age of eighteen. The final section of this paper
highlights the study’s conclusions, its limitations and lastly its importance.
Methods and Methodology:
This study incorporates an inductive framework, coupled with a mixed-method approach.
The former “involves the search for patterns from observation and the development of
explanations” within the existing literature in order to find a relevant theory applicable to this
case study.
5
,
6
The latter refers to the “systematic integration…of quantitative and qualitative
data within a single investigation or sustained program of inquiry.”
7
Therefore, this project
5
Shona McCombes. ‘How to Write Methodology. A Step-by-Step Guide’. Scribbr. February 25th 2019. Accessed on
Monday 28th December 2020. https://www.scribbr.co.uk/thesis-dissertation/methodology/
6
Harvey R. Bernard and Altamira Rowman. Research Methods in Anthropology: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches.
Lanham: AltaMira Press; Fourth Edition. January 3rd 2006. p. 7.
7
Jennifer Wisdom, and John W. Creswell. ‘Mixed Methods: Integrating Quantitative and Qualitative Data Collection and
Analysis While Studying Patient-Centered Medical Home Models.’ PCMH Resource Center. March 2013. Accessed on
December 28th 2020. https://pcmh.ahrq.gov/page/mixed-methods-integrating-quantitative-and-qualitative-data-collection-
and-analysis-
while#:~:text=The%20term%20%E2%80%9Cmixed%20methods%E2%80%9D%20refers,or%20sustained%20program%20
of%20inquiry.&text=Integrating%20the%20data%20during%20data%20collection%2C%20analysis%2C%20or%20discussi
on.
Page 7
will be “weaving back and forth between data and theory,” adopting an iterative approach, a
strategy that consequently sharpens both the level of integrity and credibility of this study.
8
In terms of gathering information, the researcher interacted with a set of different online
academic databases and search engines, such as The Journal of Palestine Studies and Google
Scholar. Additional data was collected from Palestinian, Israeli and international
organisations and institutions such as B’Tselem, Al Jazeera, the United Nations (UN) and the
International Criminal Court.
As a result of this approach, one limitation of this thesis lies within the restrictions imposed
by the researcher when gathering data. By solely relying on the information published by
academic databases and online search engines essentially limits the researcher’s ability to
collect evidence which ultimately varies in its origin and presentation. However, due to the
current set of circumstances, such as the restrictions faced by social researchers that prohibits
them from entering the Gaza Strip, an inductive framework paired with a mixed method
design is the most effective and efficient approach to assess the democidal acts of violence
conducted by the Israeli military during the GMR.
This study will now move onto the first chapter, reviewing the pre-existing literature that
discusses Rudolph Rummel’s theory on democide. Firstly, the intention here is to increase the
readers understanding behind this theoretical concept. Secondly, this section will highlight
how democide is a relevant tool that provides the researcher with the framework necessary to
question and address the specific form of political violence exerted by the IDF in Gaza,
following Hamas’ democratic victory in 2006.
8
Alan Bryman. Social Research Methods. New York: Oxford University Press March 21st 2012. p. 26.
Page 8
Chapter 1: Literature Review
Democide:
Coined in 1994 by the late political scientist Rudolph Rummel, democide refers to the
“intentional killing of an unarmed or disarmed person by government agents acting in their
authoritative capacity and pursuant to government policy or high command.”
9
,
10
Rummel
excluded the following categories from the concept of democide: capital punishment, military
actions taken against armed civilians and lastly, the subsequent death of a civilian during a
violent skirmish where the primary target was a military combatant.
11
Additionally, an act of violence can also be interpreted as democide if the government
representative that was responsible for the death of an unarmed individual held a wanton
disregard for the human life at cost. In other words, if a government agent had recklessly
carried out a destructive act of violence, despite already knowing the risks involved and the
potential damage that this one action may cause.
12
Democide can occur in a domestic context. In Rummel’s book titled Death by Government
(1994) the author draws the reader’s attention to the Gulag agency, a government led
program established under the communist leader of Soviet Russia, Vladimir Lenin, which
translated into a network of forced labour camps that “likely chewed up almost 40 million
lives.”
13
Additionally, Rummel also highlighted how democidal acts of violence can also
occur in a foreign context, via the indiscriminate artillery bombardment of a city, or the
imposition of a military siege that results in a humanitarian disaster, famine or mass
starvation.
14
,
15
9
Gleditsch. R.J. Rummel: An Assessment of His Many Contributions. p. 112.
10
Rudolph J. Rummel. Death by Government: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1900. London: Routledge. February 1994.
p. 37
11
Ibid. p 4.
12
Ibid. p. 42.
13
Ibid. p. 9.
14
Rudolph Rummel. Democracy, Power, Genocide, and Mass Murder. Journal of Conflict Resolution. March 1st 1995. p. 3-
4. doi:10.1177/0022002795039001001.
15
Ibid. p. 18.
Page 9
Praised within the academic community for embarking upon a “quest to document genocides,
politicides and mass murder,” Rummel explored the symbiotic relationship between violence
and power in society.
16
Specifically, the tight connection between democide and total power,
which refers to a state or government withholding extreme and in some cases
disproportionate power, determination and skill.
This relationship between power and violence was explored in Never Again: Ending War,
Democide, and Famine Through Democratic Freedom (2005), whereby Rummel claimed
that “the more power a government has to impose the beliefs of an ideological or religious
elite,” inevitably increases the likelihood of domestic and foreign acts of democide to occur.
17
In the chapters below, this study highlights how the state of Israel holds a significant degree
of power, directly affecting the lives of those residing in the Gaza Strip and how this power
provides a framework that essentially welcomes democidal acts of violence to arise.
Before discussing the critiques of Rummel’s work, I would like to briefly define
the following two concepts: genocide and politicide, with the ultimate aim to distinguish the
similarities and differences between these forms of political violence.
Genocide, Politicide and Democide:
Genocide entails “a case of extreme violence targeted at the elimination of a specific group”
of individuals that may be racially, ethnically, linguistically or religiously different, with a
notable example being the Rwandan genocide in 1994, whereby one million Tutsi’s were
killed over the period of one hundred days.
18
,
19
,
20
Similar to genocide in its definition,
politicide refers to the “killing or extermination of a particular group because of its political
16
Barbara Harff, and Ted R. Gurr. Toward Empirical Theory of Genocides and Politicides: Identification and Measurement
of Cases Since 1945. International Studies Quarterly 1988. p. 118. doi:10.2307/2600447.
17
Rudolph J Rummel. Never Again: Ending War, Democide, & Famine Through Democratic Freedom. Aeon Publishing
Inc, 2005. p. 194
18
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. ‘What is Genocide?’ United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Accessed
December 13, 2020. https://www.ushmm.org/genocide-prevention/learn-about-genocide-and-other-mass-atrocities/what-is-
genocide.
19
Peter Uvin. Reading the Rwandan Genocide. International Studies Review. 2001. p. 75.
https://www.jstor.org/stable/3186243.
20
Gary Uzonyi. Unpacking the effects of genocide and politicide on forced migration. Conflict Management and Peace
Science. November 15th 2013. p. 228. doi:10.1177/0738894213508694.
Page 10
or ideological beliefs,” with the 1982 Sabra and Shatila Massacre being a relevant example.
21
,
22
According to Gary Uzonyi’s article titled, Unpacking the Effects of genocide and politicide
on forced migration (2014) “politicides, and other such crimes against humanity, share
characteristics with genocide, such as an extreme nature of violence which may include the
deportation, sterilization, torture or murder of an individual.
23
,
24
At the very same time,
politicides “do not target specific national, ethnic, racial or religious groups for
extermination.
25
Instead, this form of political violence more generally entails the removal
of a specific group or individual whom the government regards as a threat to its stability, on
the basis of their political affiliations.
26
,
Therefore, academics interpreted democide as an umbrella concept, a form of political
violence that deeply shares the characteristics of both genocide and politicide, understanding
Rummel’s theory as the intentional “murder of any person or people by a government,
including genocide, politicide and mass murder.
27
Criticism on Rudolph Rummel’s Work:
Over the years, a handful of academics have criticised the work produced by Rummel,
specifically the methodological approached used to reinforce the concept of democide.
Barbara Harff, a professor of Political Science Emerita at the U.S. Naval Academy in
Maryland vehemently discredited the integrity of the work produced by Rummel. Harff
highlighted how “he [Rummel] chooses numbers of death that almost are skewed in the
direction of the highest guesses,” in order to support his theoretical concept.
28
This approach is problematic, given that the author at times provides questionable statements
to reinforce his claims. For instance, when discussing the democidal nature of the twentieth
21
Oxford English Dictionary. "Politicide.” Lexico Dictionaries. Accessed December 31, 2020.
https://www.lexico.com/definition/politicide.
22
Harff, Gurr. Toward Empirical Theory of Genocides and Politicides. p.366
23
Ibid.
24
Uzonyi. Unpacking the effects of genocide and politicide on forced migration. p. 228.
25
Ibid.
26
Ibid.
27
Gleditsch. An Assessment of His Many Contributions. p. 116
28
Ibid. p.10
Page 11
century, Rummel claimed that “governments murdered…174 million men, women, and
children. It could be over 340 million.”
29
Moreover, Tomislav Dulic, a senior lecturer within the department of history at the Uppsala
University, also expressed a strong sense of disapproval regarding Rummel’s methodological
approach. Specifically, Rummel’s incorporation of the variation principle.
30
According to this
doctrine, the author is inclined to make one-sided estimates, provided by sources that are both
credible and authoritative. However, majority of the estimates provided by Rummel derived
from secondary accounts, that were neither authoritative nor credible, warranting “a thorough
revision of the method.”
31
,
32
This study agreed with Dulic, given that any historical
discussion in general should be supported by a series of different primary and secondary
sources.
In addition to these factors, this paper disagreed with a number of statements within the
different books produced by Rummel discussing the concept of democide. Within
Eliminating Democide and War through an Alliance of Democracies (2001), the author
argued that the democratization of society is an empirically efficient solution to prevent
domestic democides from arising.
33
However, historical events counteract these claims. For
instance, between 1989-1990, the democratically elected leader of Sri Lanka, Junius Richard
Jayewarden had ordered military units to track, capture and execute suspected supporters and
members of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna.
34
In total, over twenty-five thousand individuals
were murdered by “government agents acting in their authoritative capacity and pursuant to
government policy or high command, within a country that incorporated a democratic form
of rule.
35
,
36
29
Dulić, Tomislav. Tito’s Slaughterhouse: A Critical Analysis of Rummel’s Work on Democide. Journal of Peace Research.
January 1st 2004. p. 100. doi:10.1177/0022343304040051.
30
Ibid. p. 98.
31
Ibid.
32
Ibid. p. 100.
33
Rummel, Rudolph J. Eliminating Democide and War through an Alliance of Democracies. International Journal on World
Peace. September 2001. p. 56. https://www.jstor.org/stable/20753317.
34
Gleditsch, Nils P. R.J. Rummel: An Assessment of His Many Contributions. p. 117.
35
Ibid. p. 118.
36
Ibid. p. 112.
Page 12
Furthermore, Rummel boldly asserted that democracy is a solution to democide, given that in
his view, “democracies do not wage war on each other, a position notoriously expressed
within the democratic peace theory which argues that democratic states are “highly unlikely”
to go to war with one another.
37
,
38
This study strongly disagrees with the statement above as it wishes to remind the readers that
the state of Israel, recorded as the 28th most democratic country in the world (2019), has
carried out a number of military campaigns directly affecting the inhabitants of the Gaza
Strip.
39
In addition to this, the Islamic political party otherwise known as Hamas, continued
to launch rockets into Israel soon after democratically winning the Palestinian Legislative
Elections in 2006.
40
, Both warring parties are responsible for the deaths of unarmed civilians.
Therefore, the pre-assumption that being a democratic country essentially limits or prevents
acts of democide, or more generally war from arising is historically inaccurate in today’s set
of circumstances.
As this chapter has discussed, it is evidently clear that there are an number of criticism’s
regarding Rummel’s theory on democide and the way in which he had collected data as a
political scientist. At the very same time, the framework provided by this theoretical concept
grants the research paper the ability to accurately and effectively address the killings that
took place during the Great March of Return.
The Academic Literature Available on Gaza since 2006:
The pre-existing literature produced by the leading academics within this field, such as Noam
Chomsky, Ilan Pappé and Norman Finkelstein, arguably fails to specifically explore the
nature of the political violence committed by the Israeli military against the Palestinian
residents of Gaza at the turn of the twentieth century.
37
Rummel. Eliminating Democide and War through an Alliance of Democracies. p. 56.
38
Jeffrey W. Meiser. Introducing Liberalism in International Relations Theory. E-International Relations. February 18th
2018. Accessed January 2nd 2021. p. 1. https://www.e-ir.info/pdf/72781
39
The Economist. ‘Global Democracy Has Another Bad Year’. The Economist. January 22nd 2020. Accessed
December 13, 2020.
https://www.google.com/search?q=global+democracy+has+another+bad+year&oq=Global+Democracy+Has+Another+Bad
+Year&aqs=chrome.0.0i457.326j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
40
Somdeep Sen. Bringing Back the Palestinian State: Hamas between Government and Resistance. Middle East Critique.
March 16th 2015. p. 212. doi:10.1080/19436149.2015.1017969.
Page 13
Instead the books produced, such as Gaza in Crisis: Reflections on Israel’s War Against the
Palestinians (2010) and Gaza: An Inquest Into Its Martyrdom (2018), predominantly focused
on “what has been done to Gaza,” assessing “the causes and consequences” of the “the Israeli
war in Gaza,” particularly Operation Cast Lead (2008-2009) and Operation Protective Edge
(2014).
41
,
42
Other notable publications includes Ilan Pappé’s, The Biggest Prison on Earth: A
History of the Occupied Territories (2017) which delegates most of its attention to layout a
historical overview, outlining the significant events that unfolded within the Occupied
Territories over the years.
As stated above, much of the publications produced by these leading academics tends to
either provide a historical overview on the region, or focus on the consequences of particular
events that had directly affected the Gaza Strip. Therefore, by incorporating the theoretical
framework provided by Rummel’s theory subsequently granted the researcher the tools
necessary to interpret and so address the type of political violence exerted by the Israeli
military not only during the GMR, but more generally over the years.
Consequently, this research project revitalises Rudolph Rummel’s theoretical concept on
democide by tying a contemporary example to this theoretical framework. Most importantly
however, this research paper intends to reduce the dearth of academic material available, by
analysing the nature of the violence exerted by the Israeli military in Gaza, specifically
during the GMR, with the ultimate intention to use this academic platform to provide a voice
for the voiceless, “the deliberately silenced and preferably unknown.”
43
41
Luna Fakkas. ‘Review: Gaza in crisis: reflections on Israel’s war against Palestinians, by Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappé.
University of California Press. July 1st 2011. Accessed on January 3rd 2021. https://online.ucpress.edu/caa/article-
abstract/4/3/372/104411/Review-Gaza-in-crisis-reflections-on-Israel-s-war?redirectedFrom=fulltext
42
Norman G. Finkelstein. Gaza: An Inquest Into Its Martyrdom. University of California Press. 2018. p.xi
43
Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere. ‘The Deliberately Silenced and Preferably Unheard.’ Girls’ Globe
August 10th 2018. Accessed on Friday 11th December. https://www.girlsglobe.org/2018/08/10/the-deliberately-silenced-and-
preferably-unheard/.
Page 14
Chapter 2: The Gaza Strip
“There are no innocents in Gaza.”
Former Defence
Minister of Israel
Avigdor
Lieberman
(April 8th 2018).44
General overview of the Gaza Strip since 2005:
In 2005, the former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (2001-2006) had finalized his
cabinet’s decision to withdraw all public Israeli interests from the Gaza Strip. Otherwise
known as the disengagement plan (2004), this process entailed the dismantling of all twenty-
one Israeli settlements in the region.
45
Based upon the wishful thinking that Gaza would one
day evolve into a future Palestinian state, the former Israeli Prime Minister promised to
delegate political power to Mahmud Abbas, the current President of the Palestinian National
Authority, to effectively govern the region.
46
,
47
However within the following year, Khaled Mashal, the then former leader of the Sunni
Islamist nationalist party Hamas, had defeated Mahmud Abbas in the Palestinian Legislative
Elections in Gaza, retaining 76 out of 132 parliamentary seats.
48
The electoral results
infuriated Ariel Sharon’s successor, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (2006-2009).
It prompted the new Israeli leader to instruct the IDF to continue guarding “the perimeter of
the Gaza Strip…to control Gaza air space, and continue to patrol the sea off the Gaza coast,”
44
Tovah Lazaroff. ‘“There Are No Innocents in Gaza,” Says Israeli Defense Minister.’ The Jerusalem Post. April 8th 2018.
Accessed on September 30th 2018. https://www.jpost.com/arab-israeli-conflict/there-are-no-innocents-in-gaza-says-israeli-
defense-minister-549173.
45
Joel Peters. The Gaza Disengagement: Five Years Later. Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs. July 29th 2015.
p. 33. doi:10.1080/23739770.2010.11446612.
46
Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Israel's Disengagement Plan: Renewing the Peace Process. Israeli Ministry of Foreign
Affairs. April 20th 2005. Accessed on December 3rd 2020. p. 12.
https://mfa.gov.il/mfa/foreignpolicy/peace/guide/pages/israels%20disengagement%20plan%20renewing%20the%20peace%
20process%20apr%202005.aspx.
47
Carol Migdalovitz. Israel’s Disengagement from Gaza. Library of Congress. September 16th 2005. p. 5.
https://www.everycrsreport.com/files/20050916_RS22000_4951f98925775ed0fb2dcf0904ce43ba4783fc42.pdf
48
Simon Jeffery. ‘Hamas Celebrates Election Victory.’ The Guardian. January 26th 2006. Accessed November 1st 2020.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/jan/26/israel1.
Page 15
a decision ultimately embedded within the wider framework of a new economic warfare
campaign, instilled via the imposition of a military siege against the newly classified hostile
territory.
49
,
50
To clarify, an economic warfare campaign translates to “the use of, or the threat to use
economic means against a country in order to weaken its economy and thereby reduce its
political and military power.”
51
By abiding by this framework, to safeguard Israeli citizens
from “terrorism, rocket attacks and any other hostile activities” from Hamas, the Zionist state
(with the diplomatic assistance of Egypt), regulates both the imports and exports of goods,
services and people, whether by land, air or sea.
52
It may be worth noting that the IDF’s
economic warfare campaign was supported by The Israeli Supreme Court whom
overarchingly claimed that “future harm…might be prevented by resorting to economic
warfare.”
53
According to one of the key architects of the disengagement plan, Dov Weisglass, the
purpose behind this economic warfare campaign was “to put the Palestinians on a diet, but
not to make them die of hunger, a calculative approach implemented with the hope that the
following conditions would be met.
54
Hamas would recognize the existence of Israel,
renounce violence against the Zionist state and lastly, honour all previous agreements
between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
55
Over a decade later, none of these conditions
have been met.
In addition to the IDF’s ability to dictate both the imports and exports into the region, the
Israeli military enforces a number of additional restrictions prohibiting Palestinians’ to access
49
UN. Israel's Disengagement Plan - Non-UN Document. Question of Palestine. April 30th 2005. Accessed on October 3rd
2020. https://www.un.org/unispal/document/auto-insert-209303/.
50
UNHRC. Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian
Territory. OHCHR. February 25th 2019. p. 3.
https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/CoIOPT/A_HRC_40_74.pdf.
51
George Shambaugh. ‘Economic Warfare.’ Encyclopaedia Britannica. Accessed on September 1st 2020.
https://www.britannica.com/topic/economic-warfare
52
Attila Somfalvi. ‘Cabinet: All Non-military Items Can Enter Gaza Freely’. Ynetnews. June 20th 2010. Accessed
November 1st 2020. https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3907978,00.html.
53
Tamar Meisels. Economic Warfare - The Case of Gaza. Journal of Military Ethics. July 20th 2011. p. 101.
doi:10.1080/15027570.2011.593712.
54
Conal Urquhart. ‘Gaza on Brink of Implosion As Aid Cut-off Starts to Bite.’ The Guardian. April 16th 2006. Accessed on
August 31st 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/apr/16/israel.
55
Ibid.
Page 16
particular areas inside the Strip itself, or within Gaza’s nearby territorial waters.
56
Otherwise
known as Access Restricted Areas (ARAs), the IDF established a number of buffer zones
theoretically separating the coastal enclave from the Israeli state.
57
The ARA prevents
Palestinian farmers from using at least 35% of the agricultural land and fishermen from
accessing 85% of Gaza’s territorial waters.
58
At sea, Palestinian fishermen can only sail up to
six nautical miles.
59
On land, the inhabitants are restricted from walking alongside the 1949
armistice line, otherwise known as the separation fence.
60
Any individual that enters the “no-
go” zone is viable to be either killed or injured.
61
Within this framework, “the closure of the Gaza Strip violates the full spectrum of rights
owed to the Palestinian people in Gaza,” severely infringing on their freedom of movement
within the Strip itself, as well as their access to the outside world.
62
No boat can enter or exit
this coastal enclave. Moreover, Palestinians are rarely given the ability to leave the Strip. As
a result of the restrictions imposed, the state of Israel is in violation of Article 12 (1) of the
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that “everyone shall be free
to leave any country, including his own.”
63
Ultimately, the ARA’s alone deeply impinges the
freedom of movement of over two million residents.
Due to the panoply of restrictions imposed upon the Palestinian residents living within the
region, representatives from international organisations such as John Holmes, the former
Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Coordinator of the UN, has in
the past commonly described the Strip as a “giant open-air prison.”
64
56
United Nations Country Team in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Gaza: Ten Years Later. UNSCO. July 2017.
Accessed November 7, 2019. https://unsco.unmissions.org/sites/default/files/gaza_10_years_later_-_11_july_2017.pdf.
p. 26.
56
UNHRC. Report of the detailed findings of the independent international Commission of inquiry on the protests in the
Occupied Palestinian Territory. p. 51.
57
United Nations Country Team in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Gaza: Ten Years Later. p. 26.
58
UNHRC. Report of the detailed findings of the independent international Commission of inquiry on the protests in the
Occupied Palestinian Territory. p. 53.
59
Ibid. p. 52.
60
Ibid.
61
Ibid.
62
Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights. Attacks on Unarmed Protesters at the “Great March of Return” Demonstrations A
Two-Year Report from the Start of Demonstrations on 30 March 2018. Al-Mezan. April 1st 2020. p. 4.
https://www.mezan.org/en/uploads/files/15952354571567.pdf.
63
United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commission. International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights. OHCHR. 1996. p. 7. https://www.ohchr.org/en/professionalinterest/pages/ccpr.aspx.
64
UN News. ‘Israel Must Allow Full Access for Aid and Supplies to Rehabilitate Gaza UN Relief Chief.’ UN News.
January 27th 2009. Accessed on November 23rd 2020. https://news.un.org/en/story/2009/01/289082-israel-must-allow-full-
access-aid-and-supplies-rehabilitate-gaza-un-relief.
Page 17
Image 1:
Image below geographically locates the Access Restricted Areas within the
Gaza Strip.65
In addition to all of these factors, the Gaza Strip has been bombarded by a plethora of
military campaigns conducted by the IDF. Collectively, Operation Summer Rains (2006),
“Hot Winter” (2008), “Cast Lead (2008-2009), “Returning Echo” (2012) and Protective
Edge (2014) had severely destroyed the region’s infrastructure. Abiding by the Dahiya
doctrine, a military approach that encourages the destruction of civilian infrastructure in a
hostile territory, official Palestinian headquarters of governments, hospitals, mosques and
schools in the region had been either partially or completely destroyed by the Israeli
65
UNHRC. Report of the detailed findings of the independent international Commission of inquiry on the protests in the
Occupied Palestinian Territory. p. 51.
Page 18
military.
66
,
67
Furthermore, the electricity network, sewage and water infrastructure had been
seriously impaired.
68
,
69
Crippled by both the virulent military siege and the subsequent
military assaults, the economy in Gaza is literally in “free fall”, as described by The World
Bank.
70
As each year passes, the percentage of poverty, unemployment and food insecurity continues
to reach unprecedented levels.
71
According to The World Bank, every second person located
in the most densely populated region in the world is living in poverty.
72
Gaza holds one of the
highest unemployment rates in the world, with youth unemployment over 70%.
73
At least
65% of its population is inflicted by food insecurity.
74
By July 2017, over one million
inhabitants suffered from malnutrition, despite receiving external assistance from
international and regional donors such as the UN, Qatar and Iran.
75
,
76
Moreover, the recent
data provided by Oxfam indicated that “less than four percent of freshwater is drinkable,”
calling attention to an evident ecological crisis in the region.
77
Ultimately, as long as the siege
continues, hospitals and other forms of social services will only decay further.
78
,
79
66
Omar Abu Arqoub and Ozad Bahireefe. Israeli Media Gatekeeper during Gaza War 2014 Coverage: Case of Study of
Yedioth Ahronoth Newspaper. Journal of Communication and Media Watch. January 2019. p. 23.
doi:10.15655/mw/2019/v10i1/49560.
67
Daniel Byman. A High Price: The Triumphs and Failures of Israeli Counterterrorism. New York: Oxford University
Press, 2011. p. 364.
68
United Nations Development Programme. Detailed Infrastructure Damage Assessment Gaza 2014. OCHA. December
1st 2014. Accessed on September 2nd 2020. p. 17. https://reliefweb.int/report/occupied-palestinian-territory/detailed-
infrastructure-damage-assessment-gaza-2014.
69
Ibid. p. 13.
70
The World Bank. ‘Cash-Strapped Gaza and an Economy in Collapse Put Palestinian Basic Needs at Risk.’ The World
Bank. September 25th 2018. Accessed on September 1st 2020. https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-
release/2018/09/25/cash-strapped-gaza-and-an-economy-in-collapse-put-palestinian-basic-needs-at-risk.
71
UNHRC. Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian
Territory. p. 3.
72
The World Bank. ‘Cash-Strapped Gaza and an Economy in Collapse Put Palestinian Basic Needs at Risk.’
73
Middle East Monitor. ‘Israeli Siege of Gaza Pushes Youth Unemployment Up to 70%.’ Middle East Monitor. February
18th 2020. Accessed on August 1st 2020.
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200218-israeli-siege-of-gaza-pushes-youth-unemployment-up-to-70/.
74
Huthifa Fayyad. ‘Gaza’s Great March of Return Protests Explained.’ Al Jazeera. March 30th 2019. Accessed on
September 9th 2019. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/3/30/gazas-great-march-of-return-protests-explained.
75
United Nations Country Team in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Gaza: Ten Years Later. p. 14.
76
Humanitarian Country Team. Humanitarian Needs Overview. United Nations Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs. December 2019. Accessed on September 19th 2020. p. 6.
https://www.ochaopt.org/sites/default/files/hno_2020-final.pdf
77
Oxfam. Failing Gaza: ‘Undrinkable Water, No Access to Toilets and Little Hope on the Horizon.’ Oxfam International.
June 2017. Accessed September 1st 2020.
https://www.oxfam.org/en/failing-gaza-undrinkable-water-no-access-toilets-and-little-hope-horizon.
78
United Nations Country Team in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Gaza: Ten Years Later. p. 22.
79
Humanitarian Country Team. Humanitarian Needs Overview. p. 6.
Page 19
Discussion:
Since the imposition of Israel’s military blockade on the Gaza Strip, a minimum of four
hundred and fifty Palestinian residents have died specifically because the IDF had restricted
their access to effective medical treatment.
80
Reinforcing this notion, the International
Committee of the Red Cross found that “persons are needlessly dying because of a lack of
timely medical care,” as a direct result of the siege.
81
Many of the victims had been cancer
patients, the elderly and babies that had been born prematurely.
82
,
83
Therefore, the IDF, via its pre-meditated military siege embedded within an economic
warfare campaign purposefully designed to subjugate a region, holds a wanton disregard for
the lives of two million inhabitants living in the Gaza Strip, as many Palestinians died
specifically because of the restrictions imposed on their movement as a result of the
blockade. Therefore, you can pose the argument that the Israeli military is guilty of
committing an act of democide by imposing a military siege upon the people of Gaza,
resulting in the death of innocent civilians.
84
To briefly mention, Article 42 of the Hague Regulations of 1907 specifically states that a
“territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile
army.”
85
Therefore, under international law, Israel, as an occupying power must adhere to
Article 59 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which specifically states that “if the whole or
part of the population of an occupied territory is inadequately supplied, the Occupying Power
shall agree to relief schemes on behalf of the said population.”
86
,
87
80
Al-Jazeera. ‘More Than 1,000 Palestinians in Gaza Died from Israeli Blockade’. Al Jazeera. February 25th 2018. Accessed
on November 13th 2020. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/2/25/more-than-1000-palestinians-in-gaza-died-from-israeli-
blockade.
81
Human Rights Watch (HRW). ‘Deprived and Endangered: Humanitarian Crisis in the Gaza Strip.’ HRW. January 13th
2009. Accessed on December 12th, 2020. https://www.hrw.org/news/2009/01/13/deprived-and-endangered-humanitarian-
crisis-gaza-strip#_ftn27.
82
Ibid.
83
Mersiha Gadzo. ‘Gaza’s Cancer Patients: “We Are Dying Slowly”.’ Al Jazeera. February 5th 2017. Accessed on
November 13th 2020. https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2017/2/5/gazas-cancer-patients-we-are-dying-slowly.
84
Rummel. Death by Government. p. 37.
85
International Committee of the Red Cross. Treaties, States Parties, and Commentaries - Hague Convention (IV) on War
on Land and Its Annexed Regulations, 1907 - Regulations: Article 42. International Committee of the Red Cross. October
18th 1907. Accessed on November 7, 2020. https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/ihl/INTRO/195
86
International Committee of the Red Cross. ‘Treaties, States Parties, and Commentaries - Geneva Convention (IV) on
Civilians, 1949 - 59 - Relief I. Collective Relief.’ International Committee of the Red Cross. August 12th 1949. Accessed on
December 2nd, 2020.
https://ihldatabases.icrc.org/applic/ihl/ihl.nsf/Article.xsp?action=openDocument&documentId=EDA33BAD877F6183C125
63CD0051BE90
87
UNHRC Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian
Territory. p. 18.
Page 20
Despite the troubling ecological concerns, such as the collapsing water and sewage
infrastructure, Israeli leaders continue to neglect the egregious humanitarian, economic and
ecological crisis that continues to mutate in the region, as the IDF cites its security concerns,
breaching a number conventions within international law.
88
As a direct result of the siege, the region will become “unliveable by 2020 due to a lack of
hygiene, accessed to clean water, and food,” according to the UN.
89
This thesis was
submitted in January 2021. Israel’s military blockade continues to remain in full effect.
88
Zafrir Rinat. ‘Collapsing Environmental State of Gaza Poses Threat to Israel's National Security, Report Warns.’ Haaretz.
June 3rd 2019. Accessed on November 20th 2020. https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-environmental-state-of-
gaza-poses-threat-to-israel-s-national-security-report-warns-1.7328966.
89
Noura Erakat. The Sovereign Right to Kill: A Critical Appraisal of Israel’s Shoot-to-Kill Policy in Gaza. International
Criminal Law Review. October 2019. p. 800. doi:10.1163/15718123-01905002.
Page 21
Chapter 3: The Great March of Return
“Slow death by siege, wherein lack of medicine, the absence of future prospects, and
massive unemployment constitute psychological and emotional death for young people who
have no opportunity to meet such basic needs as housing, stability and work; or, defiance
and rebellion, that is, for people to raise their voices en masse.
Lead organiser of the Great
March of Return, Ahmed
Abu Artema (2018).90
Introduction:
On January 7th 2018, Palestinian peace activist and poet, Ahmed Abu Artema posted an
online status on Facebook.
91
In response to the humanitarian conditions within the besieged
Gaza Strip, Artema proposed the following idea, “what would happen if 200,000 protesters
gathered near the Israel fence with the Gaza Strip, marching peacefully alongside the 1949
armistice line, accompanied by international media.
92
Whilst protesting against the living
conditions in the region, Artema would also use the context of the march to demand the right
for Gazans, whom two-thirds are the descendants of the Palestinian refugees that were
displaced during the Nakba in 1948, to return to their ancestral homelands.
93
,
94
Artema’s Facebook post sparked a robust public debate throughout the Strip. Very quickly,
the idea began to gain momentum, soon evolving into a movement attracting the open
support of Palestinians from various sectors of civil society, welcoming all ages, genders,
socio-cultural and political affiliations.
95
90
Ibid.
91
Mustafa A Sneineh. ‘Interview: The Palestinian Who Sparked March of Return with a Facebook Post.’ Middle East Eye.
June 8th 2018. Accessed on July 3rd, 2018. https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/interview-palestinian-who-sparked-march-
return-facebook-post.
92
Ibid.
93
Erakat. The Sovereign Right to Kill. p. 797.
94
Defense for Children Palestine (DCIP). ‘Year-in-review: 2018 Rained Deadly Force on Palestinian Children.’ DCIP.
December 31st 2018. Accessed on October 4th 2020.
https://www.dcipalestine.org/year_in_review_2018_reigned_deadly_force_on_palestinian_children.
95
UNHRC. Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian
Territory. p. 4.
Page 22
Within a matter of weeks, the residents in Gaza drew up a twelve-principle charter outlining
the nature of the demonstration, informing the state of Israel that the protests will be “fully
peaceful from beginning to the end” and that the participants would be unarmed.
96
This
pacificist approach was transparently instilled by the lead demonstrator of the march, who
highlighted how it “is not an armed struggle…the concept was that we could protest and
demonstrate without going to war,” exercising the universal Human Right to form a peaceful
assembly.
97
,
98
Well aware of the level of dogmatism embedded within Israel’s rhetoric to instrumentally
apply Hamas as a pretext to justify any illegitimate act of violence carried out by the IDF, the
twelve principle charter specifically informed the Israeli military that “the only flag raised
during the march is the Palestinian flag with no partisan slogans.”
99
The fundamental purpose
behind this principle was to remind the IDF that the protest at its core is an organised form of
grass-root popular action.
100
In hindsight, this principle sought to dismantle any suspected
assumptions that the march had been initiated by Hamas or any other militant organisation in
the region.
101
As weeks passed, thousands of Palestinians living in the Strip coalesced by the demarcation
fence that separates Gaza from the state of Israel. Within the five major governorates in the
region: Abu Safia (north Gaza), Malaka (east Gaza), El-Bureij (central Gaza), Khuza’a (east
of Khan Younis) and lastly Al-Shawkah, (south of Rafah), Palestinians had established a
“camp of return” stationed roughly seven hundred meters away from the separation fence,
designed with the intention to provide “meals, traditional dabke dancing, football games and
even weddings.
102
,
103
96
Ibid.
97
Sneineh. ‘The Palestinian who sparked March of Return with a Facebook post.
98
International Commission of Jurists ‘Chapter Four: Freedom of Assembly, Association and Expression. International
Commission of Jurists. Accessed on November 12th 2020.
https://www.icj.org/sogi-casebook-introduction/chapter-four-freedom-of-assembly-association-and-expression/ .
99
Jehad Abusalim. The Great March of Return: An Organizer's Perspective. Journal of Palestine Studies 47, no. 4. 2018.
doi:10.1525/jps.2018.47.4.90. p. 95.
100
UNHRC. Report of the detailed findings of the independent international Commission of inquiry on the protests in the
Occupied Palestinian Territory. p. 60.
101
Ibid.
102
UNHRC. Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian
Territory. p. 5.
103
Hazem Balousha. ‘Time for Peaceful Resistance, Says Gaza's New Movement.’ The Guardian. April 6th 2018. Accessed
on 31st December 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/06/time-for-peaceful-resistance-says-gazas-new-
movement.
Page 23
Originally scheduled to last for forty-five days, this unprecedented organised civil
demonstration, otherwise understood as The Great March of Return (GMR) began on March
30th 2018 and continued until December 27th, 2019.
104
,
105
The Israeli Military’s Rules and Methods of Engagement:
Throughout the GMR, the IDF complied with the international law of enforcement, a
paradigm that grants the soldiers the ability to distribute lethal force, only if the antagonist is
an imminent threat to the people around them, and that all possible preventative and
precautionary measures had been applied.
106
,
107
Moreover, the Israeli military had also abided
by the conduct of hostilities framework, a model that allows the Israeli military to inflict
deadly force upon any individual taking part in a hostile activity.
108
Hypothetically, if a
Palestinian demonstrator happened to be participating in a direct form of violence, the Israeli
military is expected to use live ammunition to “hit, break a bone – in the best case, break the
kneecap…of a key rioter or a key inciter…only as a last resort.”
109
,
110
To prevent this from occurring, the IDF not only air-dropped leaflets in Gaza,
(see image 2) but had also contacted the major bus companies in the region in the days
leading up to the first demonstration, commanding Palestinians not to participate in this
social protest.
111
In addition to this, over one hundred highly-trained snipers deriving from
the Gefen and Katif Brigades were placed alongside the perimeter, working in teams
consisting of an observer and a spotter, led by a senior commander.
112
,
113
104
Al-Jazeera. ‘Organisers Say Gaza Protests to Be Scaled Back.’ Al-Jazeera. December 26th 2019. Accessed on August 3rd
2020.https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/12/26/organisers-say-gaza-protests-to-be-scaled-back.
105
Dale T Snauwaert. Exploring Betty A. Reardon’s Perspective on Peace Education: Looking Back, Looking Forward.
Basingstoke: Springer, 2020. p.134.
106
UNHRC. Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian
Territory. p. 30.
107
Ibid. p. 82.
108
Ibid. p. 84.
109
Ibid. p. 85.
110
Hilo Glazer. ‘“42 Knees in One Day”: Israeli Snipers Open Up About Shooting Gaza Protesters.’ Haaretz. March 6th
2020. Accessed on October 1st 2020. https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium.MAGAZINE-42-knees-in-one-day-
israeli-snipers-open-up-about-shooting-gaza-protesters-1.8632555.
111
UNHRC. Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian
Territory. p. 5.
112
Ibid.
113
UNHRC. Report of the detailed findings of the independent international Commission of inquiry on the protests in the
Occupied Palestinian Territory. p. 74.
Page 24
The highly-skilled marksmen were equipped with either the Ruger 10/22 semi-automatic
sniper rifle or the Israeli made Tavor assault rifles, stocked with live ammunition including
explosive and fragmentation bullets, as well as rubber and sponge coated rounds.
114
,
115
Additionally, the graphic photographs of bullet wounds obtained by Amnesty International
indicated that the Israeli Security Forces (ISF) were equipped with the US-manufactured
M24 Remington sniper rifle, which possesses the ability to shoot a 7.62mm size bullet that
expands inside the body.
116
In addition to this, tear gas grenades were also available,
dispersed via a remote-controlled drone.
117
Furthermore, additional barriers were built, barbed wire coils were placed, deep trenches
were dug, and earth mounds were erected, granting the soldiers a stronger optical view on the
residents of Gaza.
118
Consequently, it is evidently clear from the tactics adopted, as well as
the weapons and tools equipped, that the IDF had demonized the GMR, interpreting the
protest as a guise that grants armed Palestinian factions in the region the ability to breach the
separation fence and so enter Israel.
114
Ibid. p. 79.
115
Ibid. p. 162.
116
Amnesty International. ‘Six Months on: Gaza's "Great March of Return.’ Amnesty International. 2018. Accessed on
September 10th 2019. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2018/10/gaza-great-march-of-return/.
117
UNHRC. Report of the detailed findings of the independent international Commission of inquiry on the protests in the
Occupied Palestinian Territory. p. 79
118
UNHRC. Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian
Territory. p.5
Page 25
Image 2:
The image below was shared by the official Twitter account of the Israeli
Defence Forces in the days following up to the first day of protest.119
119
UNHRC. Report of the detailed findings of the independent international Commission of inquiry on the protests in the
Occupied Palestinian Territory. p. 74.
Page 26
March 30th 2018:
On the first day of the GMR, a minimum of forty thousand Palestinians had congregated at
the five main camps mentioned above, peacefully protesting alongside the ARA buffer zones
near the fence.
120
By the afternoon, an unarmed forty-one-year-old man named Abed
Hawajri was targeted and fatally shot by a highly-skilled sniper in his abdomen, despite the
fact that he “did not pose an imminent threat of death or serious injury to the ISF when he
was shot.”
121
In a single day, at least eighteen Palestinians had been killed.
122
The majority of the victims
were shot either in their abdomen, back, neck or head.
123
According to the United Nations
Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the oldest casualty had been a seventy-one-year-old
woman, the youngest, a two-year-old girl.
124
A total minimum of one thousand four hundred Palestinians were injured by the ISF, with
over seven hundred demonstrators wounded by live ammunition.
125
,
126
The following day,
the former Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman boldly claimed that there would be
no investigations conducted that would assess the disproportionate use of violence exerted by
the Israeli military on the first day of the protest.
127
On March 30th 2018, the highly-skilled Israeli snipers stationed by the earth mounds near the
separation fence had indiscriminately shot a number of unarmed demonstrators with live
ammunition, in many cases above their torso. Essentially, this indicates that there had been a
strong intent to inflict serious harm against a defenceless population, whereby the majority
were protesting in a civil manner. To conclude, the excessive armed force conducted by the
Israeli military on March 30th 2018 constitutes as an act of democide. This day alone exposed
the IDF’s wanton disregard for the human lives at cost, as Israeli snipers illegitimately
120
UNHRC. Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian
Territory. p. 7.
121
UNHRC. Report of the detailed findings of the independent international Commission of inquiry on the protests in the
Occupied Palestinian Territory. p. 111.
122
Ibid. p. 109.
123
Erakat. The Sovereign Right to Kill. p. 786.
124
UNHRC. Report of the detailed findings of the independent international Commission of inquiry on the protests in the
Occupied Palestinian Territory. p. 109.
125
Erakat. The Sovereign Right to Kill. p. 784.
126
UNRWA. Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian
Territory. p. 9.
127
HRW. Israel: Gaza Killings Unlawful, Calculated. HRW. April 3rd 2018. Accessed on December 29th
2020.https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/04/03/israel-gaza-killings-unlawful-calculated.
Page 27
targeted and killed unarmed demonstrators, such as Abed Hawajri. Ultimately, this sub-
section of this chapter serves to strengthen the argument that the Israeli military throughout
the GMR had intentionally killed unarmed protesters participating in this march.
Image 3:
Photograph portraying Palestinians demonstrators and the Israeli military
by the separation fence in the context of the Great March of Return.128
Before summarising this chapter, this study will provide academic attention to the events that
unfolded on the bloodiest day in Gaza since Operation Protective Edge (2014), addressing the
nature in which the Israeli military had purposefully killed unarmed Palestinians participating
in the GMR.
129
128
Jerusalem Post. ‘17 Dead, over a Thousand Injured After Palestinians Clash with IDF.’ The Jerusalem Post. March 30th
2018. Accessed on December 17th 2020. https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/LIVE-COVERAGE-Multiple-dead-
and-hundreds-hurt-as-Palestinians-clash-with-IDF-on-Gaza-Border-547534.
129
BBC News. ‘Gaza begins to bury its dead after deadliest day in years.’ BBC News. May 15th 2018. Accessed on
September 19th 2020. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east
Page 28
May 14th 2018:
On the seventieth anniversary of the Nakba, the Trump administration controversially opened
its first embassy in Jerusalem.
130
As Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump joined the Israeli
Prime Minister celebrating Israel’s independence, Palestinians roughly sixty miles from the
ceremony congregated in their tens of thousands, protesting against this diplomatic decision
within the context of the GMR.
131
Described by the 45th president of the United States as “a great day for Israel, a minimum of
sixty-three Palestinians in Gaza were killed by highly-skilled Israeli snipers.
132
,
133
The
casualties included eight children, a paramedic and a double amputee.
134
Within a four-hour
period, at least three thousand five hundred protesters were injured, two thousand of which
resulted from gunshot wounds.
135
,
136
Reporting the events from a first-hand perspective, Dr. Ghassan Abu Sitta, the head of plastic
and reconstructive surgery at the American University of Beirut, stated how the atmosphere
reflected “something closer to a World War I type carnage than a demonstration.”
137
Disturbingly, medics found that many of the protesters had been shot with fragmentation
bullets, a metal projectile that essentially breaks into 20 25 different pieces upon impact.
138
By using internationally prohibited bullets, it is clear that the IDF intended to “produce the
kinds of injuries that would both incapacitate the health system and turn the able bodies of
these young men into burdens on their families.”
139
In total, forty-four protesters had to
undergo amputation surgery on May 14th 2018.
140
According to the UNHRC, one Israeli
soldier was injured, reportedly by a stone.
141
130
Ibid.
131
UNHRC. Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian
Territory. p. 9.
132
Vittorio Felci, and Sofos A Spyros. ‘Clashes at Border Reveal How Israel Dehumanizes Palestinians’. The Globe Post.
May 7th 2018. Accessed on December 10th 2020. https://theglobepost.com/2018/07/03/israel-gaza-dehumanization/.
133
Amnesty International. ‘Six Months on: Gaza's "Great March of Return.”’
134
Riyad Al-Maliki. Referral by the State of Palestine Pursuant to Articles 13(a) and 14 of the Rome Statute. International
Criminal Court. May 15th 2018. https://www.icc-cpi.int/itemsDocuments/2018-05-22_ref-palestine.pdf. p. 9.
135
Perla Issa. Interview with Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta: “There is no International Community”. Journal of Palestine Studies.
August 2018. p. 49. doi:10.1525/jps.2018.47.4.46.
136
Peter Beaumont, Oliver Holmes and Hazem Balousha. ‘Global Protests Grow After Israeli Killing of Palestinian
Demonstrators.’ The Guardian. May 15th 2018. Accessed on September 29th 2020.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/15/palestinians-to-bury-58-people-killed-in-us-embassy-protests..
137
Issa. Interview with Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta. p. 49.
138
Ibid. p. 50.
139
Ibid. p. 51
140
Ibid. p. 49.
141
UNHRC. Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian
Territory. p. 11.
Page 29
To reinforce the notion that the Israeli military had intentionally shot unarmed Palestinians
participating in the GMR on May 14th 2018, this paper wishes to delegate the reader’s
attention to the killing of Fadi Abu Salmi, a twenty-nine-year-old double amputee who “did
not pose an imminent threat of life or injury to ISF soldiers at the time he was killed.
142
Losing both his legs during Operation Cast Lead (2008 2009), Mr. Salmi was struck by a
bullet in his chest, released from the sniper rifle of an Israeli soldier stationed by the
separation fence between Gaza and Israel.
143
By targeting a double amputee above his waist
“as he sat in his wheelchair under a tree approximately 250-300m from the separation fence,
indicated that the highly-skilled Israeli marksman held a wanton disregard for the life of Mr.
Salmi, and so sought to illegitimately inflict a significant degree of pain which inevitably
resulted in his death.
144
Therefore, this case study serves to illuminate and also represent the
democidal characteristics embedded within the IDF’s open-fire policy conducted throughout
the GMR, specifically on May 14th 2020.
Internationally, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, China, Russia and the UN had
diplomatically expressed their collective concerns regarding the egregious level of violence
exerted by the Israeli military.
145
The high commission of the UN Human Rights office, Zeid
Ra’ad al Hussein was deeply outraged by the fact that unarmed protesters were “liable to be
shot dead or injured: women, children, press, first responders, bystanders…at almost any
point up to seven hundred metres from the fence.”
146
Moreover, South Africa’s president Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa condemned “in the strongest
terms possible the latest act of violent aggression,” whilst the Turkish leader Recep Tayyip
Erdoğan argued that “what Israel has done is a genocide.”
147
,
148
Despite this level of
142
UNHRC. Report of the detailed findings of the independent international Commission of inquiry on the protests in the
Occupied Palestinian Territory. p. 159.
143
Ibid.
144
Ibid.
145
Beaumont, Holmes and Balousha. ‘Global Protests Grow After Israeli Killing of Palestinian Demonstrators.’
146
Al-Jazeera. ‘Laila Anwar Al-Ghandour Becomes the Face of Gaza Carnage.’ Al Jazeera. May 15th 2018. Accessed on
November 3rd 2020. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/5/15/laila-anwar-al-ghandour-becomes-the-face-of-gaza-carnage.
147
Emily Shugerman. ‘Turkish President Accuses Israel of 'genocide' After Palestinian Deaths on Gaza Border.’ The
Independent. May 14th 2018. Accessed on November 3rd 2020. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-
east/turkey-recalls-ambassadors-erdogan-israel-gaza-protests-genocide-us-embassy-jerusalem-border-fence-a8351746.html.
148
Kaveel Singh. ‘SA Pulls Ambassador out of Israel over Gaza Violence.’ News24. May 14th 2018. Accessed on August
23rd 2020. https://www.news24.com/news24/SouthAfrica/News/sa-pulls-ambassador-out-of-israel-over-gaza-violence-
20180514
Page 30
international scrutiny, no individual nor Israeli institution has been held effectively
accountable for the events that unfolded on May 14th 2018.
To defend its actions, the IDF informed the international community that twenty-four
terrorists were successfully killed, failing to publicly provide any form of evidence to support
this claim.
149
Regardless, if twenty-four Palestinians had been killed that was supposedly
terrorists, what justifies shooting live ammunition towards two thousand demonstrators
marching peacefully?
Discussion:
Since March 30th 2018, over two hundred and sixty-five demonstrators in Gaza had been
killed in the context of the GMR.
150
More than two hundred of those protesters died either by
live ammunition or via shrapnel wounds.
151
Moreover, a total minimum of eighteen thousand
people had been injured.
152
At least six thousand were struck by live ammunition, including
nine hundred and forty children, as well as over one hundred women.
153
,
154
At least two
hundred Palestinians underwent amputation surgery as a result of the injuries sustained
during the GMR.
155
According to an article published by The Jerusalem Post, a total of one
Israeli sniper named Avi Levi was killed by a highly-skilled Palestinian marksman
representing the militant organisation, Hamas.
156
The numerical disproportion within the number of casualties implies that the IDF had not
been acting in self-defence throughout the GMR. Instead, the snipers stationed by the fence
sought to administer a strong degree of deadly harm against Palestinians participating in the
march, a notion advocated by the UNHRC, whom found that the Israeli military had shot live
149
BBC News. Gaza begins to bury its dead after deadliest day in years.
150
Huthifa. ‘Gaza’s Great March of Return Protests Explained.’
151
Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights. Attacks on Unarmed Protesters at the “Great March of Return.” p. 19.
152
Al-Jazeera. Gaza Protests: All the Latest Updates. Al Jazeera. November 12th 2018. Accessed on December 5th 2020.
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/11/12/gaza-protests-all-the-latest-updates.
153
Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights. Seven Protesters Killed, Two of Them Children, and 257 Injured at Friday
Demonstrations in Gaza. Al-Mezan. August 29th 2018. Accessed on December 1st 2020.
https://www.mezan.org/en/post/23230.
154
Landau. ‘UN Council: Israel Intentionally Shot Children and Journalists in Gaza.’
155
Snauwaert. Exploring Betty A. Reardon’s Perspective on Peace Education. p. 137.
156
Anna Ahronheim. ‘IDF Names Aviv Levi, 21, As Soldier Killed by Hamas Sniper at Gaza Border.’ The Jerusalem. July
21st 2018. Accessed on December 7th 2018.https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/IDF-Strikes-terror-targets-in-Gaza-563027.
Page 31
ammunition towards “civilians who were neither participating directly in hostilities nor
posing an imminent threat to life.
157
,
158
Table 1:
Total number of fatalities and injuries during the Great March of Return
between 30th March 31st December 2018.159
The events that unfolded throughout the GMR had vividly encapsulated a truly disturbing
reality. Within a matter of weeks, the perimeter near the separation fence had ultimately
transformed into a theatre of savagery, exhibiting multiple acts of democide. According to the
UN, a total of one hundred and fifty unarmed Palestinians had been intentionally killed by a
government agent since the protest began.
160
As this study will explore in more detail in chapter four, the Israeli snipers stationed by the
separation fence had intentionally killed unarmed protesters, journalists, paramedics and
children, in order to prevent Palestinians’ within the Strip from breaching the fence that
separates Gaza from Israel.
161
Therefore, the gross level of violence exerted throughout the
march fundamentally constitutes as an act of democide.
157
Landau. ‘UN Council: Israel Intentionally shot Children and Journalists in Gaza.’
158
UNHRC. Report of the detailed finds of the independent international Commission of inquiry on the protests in the
Occupied of Palestinian territory. p. 1.
159
Ibid. p. 104.
160
Landau. ‘UN Council: Israel Intentionally Shot Children and Journalists in Gaza.’
161
UNHRC. Report of the detailed finds of the independent international Commission of inquiry on the protests in the
Occupied of Palestinian territory. p. 1.
Page 32
To reinforce the notion that the Israeli military had intentionally killed unarmed protesters
throughout the GMR, I wish to remind the readers that the highly-skilled snipers positioned
by the separation fence had undergone an extensive set of training. As a result, the soldiers
are well aware of the type of damage that their primary weapon, the formerly outlawed Ruger
10/22 semi-automatic sniper rifle, will cause to any specific location. Used throughout both
Palestinian intifadas, the Israeli military is well aware of the weapon’s velocity, thus its
ability to kill.
162
This inevitably implies that throughout the GMR, Israeli snipers had retained
a strong understanding regarding the potential damage that can be possibly inflicted by their
weapon.
Since the beginning of this protest, over nine hundred demonstrators had been purposefully
shot above their torso by live ammunition released from this weapon.
163
Consequently, as the
evidence suggest, the IDF’s violent response had caused life-threatening harm to unarmed
protesters, marching peacefully alongside the demarcation line, constituting as an act of
democide.
Conversely, it would be politically incorrect to unanimously assume that there had been no
acts of violence orchestrated by Palestinian since the beginning of this march. Yes, a minority
of demonstrators had flown incendiary kites, balloons and had hurled stones towards the
direction of the ISF.
164
Moreover, there is also validity behind the following notion that
current and former members from Hamas, as well as other Palestinian political factions such
as Fatah, had directly participated in the GMR.
165
Regardless of this reality, the GMR began as a grassroot political campaign and was
maintained by peaceful Palestinian activists deriving from the various sectors of Gaza’s civil
society. In spite of the violent activities carried out by a small proportion of demonstrators,
international organisations such as the UNHRC interpreted the “character of the GMR as a
162
Felix Black. ‘The Israeli Army‘s Use of the Ruger Sniper Rifle. Palestine Monitor’. March 4th 2013. Accessed November
29th 2020. https://www.palestinemonitor.org/details.php?id=u7gmbxa2971yfe99jd9ho
163
UNHRC. Report of the detailed finds of the independent international Commission of inquiry on the protests in the
Occupied of Palestinian territory. p. 162
164
Ibid. p. 1
165
Sneineh. Interview: The Palestinian Who Sparked March of Return with a Facebook Post.
Page 33
peaceful civilian demonstration,” discrediting the legitimacy behind the IDF’s excessive use
of armed force.
166
Despite being interpreted as a peaceful demonstration by the UNHRC, The Israeli Supreme
Court defended the use of deadly force during the GMR as a legitimate form of self-defence
on May 24th 2018.
167
In Yesh Din v. Chief of General Staff, IDF (2018), the panel of jurists
unanimously rejected the two petitions filed by six human rights organisations that had
challenged the Israeli military’s rules of engagement during the GMR, specifically between
the months of March and May 2018.
168
Both the Israeli government and the Supreme Court stated that the protests were taking place
within an organised framework maintained by Hamas, allowing the militant organisation to
implement its “dirty war against Israel.
169
Therefore, under the Law of Armed Conflict,
Deputy Chief Justice Hanan Melcer legitimised the ISF’s ability to freely distribute lethal
force upon any demonstrator, even if they do not pose as a risk, only after using a set of non-
lethal methods to remove the supposed threat.
170
By reinforcing the conviction that the GMR was orchestrated and maintained by Hamas, the
Israeli government, military and Supreme Court is attempting to justify the excessive use of
force exerted by the IDF during this civil protest, an atmosphere described as a “warzone” by
Israel’s former ambassador to the United States, Danny Ayalon.
171
In an apparent dismissal
of Israel’s justification for the use of lethal force, Rupert Colville, spokesman for the
UNHRC, said that “it is not acceptable to say that ‘this is Hamas and therefore this is OK.”
172
Colville later added that “approaching a fence is not a lethal, life-threatening act, so that does
not warrant being shot, discrediting the legitimacy behind such attacks.
173
166
UNHRC. Report of the detailed finds of the independent international Commission of inquiry on the protests in the
Occupied of Palestinian territory. p. 107
167
Ibid. p. 783.
168
Yahli Shereshevsky. HCJ 3003/18 Yesh Din Volunteers for Human Rights v. Chief of General Staff, Israel Defense
Forces (IDF). American Journal of International Law. April 9th 2019. p. 361. doi:10.1017/ajil.2019.8.
169
Eytan Gilboa. ‘The “March of Return”: Hamas’ Dirty War Against Israel.’ The Jerusalem Post. April 22nd 2018.
Accessed on December 8th, 2020. https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/The-March-of-Return-Hamas-dirty-war-against-Israel-
552445.
170
Shereshevsky. HCJ 3003/18 Yesh Din Volunteers for Human Rights v. Chief of General Staff, Israel Defence Forces
(IDF). p. 365.
171
Al-Jazeera English. Gaza Killings: Who is to blame? | Head-to-Head. YouTube. July 20th 2018. Accessed on December
7th 2020. 06:47 seconds. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfw2AVqcne0&t=407s.
172
Beaumont, Holmes and Balousha. ‘Global Protests Grow After Israeli Killing of Palestinian Demonstrators.’
173
Ibid.
Page 34
Ultimately, the GMR exposed the IDF’s indiscriminate open fire policy conducted against an
unarmed population, exercising their fundamental right to form an assembly. It is evidently
clear to international spectators and political experts that the military force exerted by the
IDF and the collective punishment imposed upon the demonstrators, is a serious violation on
the Palestinians’ fundamental rights to life, the security of person, and so ability to live free
from cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.
174
,
175
To conclude, the protesters were using the march as a platform to peacefully voice their
concerns against the humanitarian conditions in the region, as a result of Israel’s military
blockade. Moreover, the participants were also using this stage as a platform to demand the
right for Palestinians to return to their ancestral homeland, thus drawing attention to the
United Nations Resolution 194 (III) (1948), which specifically allows “refugees wishing to
return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours.”
176
The Israeli military responded by unleashing a panoply of bullets and tear gas canisters
towards the direction of unarmed protesters. By intentionally shooting an unarmed
demonstrator, who is not an imminent threat to the solider or to the people around them,
constitutes as an act of democide and amounts to a disproportionate use of violence. Despite
the incidents that took place throughout the GMR, no individual nor institution has been held
effectively accountable for the killings that took place throughout this civil protest. In the
next chapter, this study begins to investigate three separate case study examples of unarmed
Palestinian journalists, children and reporters that were intentionally killed by a government
agent during the GMR, in order to expose the true nature of the violence orchestrated by the
IDF.
174
UNHRC. Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian
Territory. p. 18.
175
Erakat. The Sovereign Right to Kill. p. 786.
176
United Nations General Assembly. Resolution 194. UNRWA. December 11th 1948. Accessed November 25, 2020. p. 24.
https://www.unrwa.org/content/resolution-194.
Page 35
Chapter 4.1 Journalists, Paramedics & Children:
Yaser Abd Al-Rahman Murtaja
We thought it was just an injury and he will be injured for a while and then God will heal
him, and he will come out it like the rest of the injured people.
I didn’t expect him to die.”
Yusra Murtaja reflecting on the
death of her son
177
Yaser Murtaja.
Introduction:
Yaser Abd Al-Rahman Murtaja was a 30-
year-old Palestinian reporter that had been
killed by an Israeli sniper during the GMR
on April 6th, 2018.
178
Described as “one of
Gaza’s best-known journalist”, the co-
founder of Ain Media worked alongside
Al-Jazeera, Vice, Araby TV and the United
Nations International Children Emergency
Fund, predominantly focusing on human
rights, as well as the socio-economic and
political issues arising within the Gaza
Strip.
179
Image 4: Yaser Murtaja.180
177
Ben Lynfield. ‘MK Demands Soldier Who Killed Gaza Photographer Be Put on Trial’. The Jerusalem Post. April 8th
2018. Accessed on September 3rd 2020. https://www.jpost.com/arab-israeli-conflict/mk-demands-soldier-who-killed-gaza-
photographer-be-put-on-trial-549184
178
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). ‘Yaser Murtaja’. Committee to Protect Journalists. April 7th 2018. Accessed on
September 3rd 2020. https://cpj.org/data/people/yaser-murtaja/
179
Ibid.
180
Ibid.
Page 36
On April 6th 2018, Murtaja was documenting the events unfolding during the second
consecutive week of the GMR, capturing images of the demonstrations by the eastern
periphery of the Strip.
181
In the afternoon, the Palestinian photojournalists was shot with a
live round of ammunition by the ISF, despite clearly wearing a navy-blue bullet proof vest
with the words “PRESS” transparently written on it, roughly three hundred and fifty metres
away from the fence which separates the Gaza Strip from the state of Israel.
182
,
183
,
184
The bullet had pierced Murtaja underneath his arm paving a trajectory towards his intestines,
rupturing one of his main arteries.
185
After being fatally shot, Murtaja was transferred to
Khan Younis’ Nasser Hospital, undergoing a four-hour operation whereby part of his liver
had been removed.
186
,
187
As his physical state worsened, the Palestinian journalists soon died
the next day at roughly 1 am, suffering from “severe damage in the spleen and arteries,
resulting in substantial blood loss.”
188
The Investigation:
One day after Yaser Murtaja was killed, the Israeli military publicly issued a statement
claiming that it “does not intentionally fire on journalists” and that the circumstances in
which journalists were hit, allegedly by IDF fire, are unknown to us and are being
examined, with Brigadier General Moti Baruch leading the investigation.
189
,
190
After
supposedly conducting an extensive examination into the incident, the military institution, as
well as the former Israeli Defence Minister, Avigdor Liberman, concluded that the
181
Al-Jazeera. ‘Yaser Murtaja, and His Dreams of Travelling’. Al Jazeera. April 7th 2018. Accessed on September 3rd 2020
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/4/7/yaser-murtaja-and-his-dreams-of-travelling.
182
CPJ. Yaser Murtaja.
183
Robert Fisk. ‘Opinion: Here’s How the Deaths of Journalists Are Brushed Aside in the Middle East.’ The Independent.
January 31st 2019. Accessed on August 4th 2020. https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/jamal-khashoggi-un-istanbul-
embassy-saudi-arabia-yaser-murtaja-agnes-callamard-a8755366.html.
184
Al-Jazeera. Yaser Murtaja, and His Dreams of Travelling.
185
UNHRC. Report of the detailed findings of the independent international Commission of inquiry on the protests in the
Occupied Palestinian Territory. p. 156
186
Al-Jazeera. Yaser Murtaja, and his dreams of travelling
187
Altahrir. ‘One Year Ago Today, An Israeli Sniper Killed Palestinian Photojournalist Yaser Murtaja’. Altahrir. April 7th
2019. Accessed on August 5th 2020. https://altahrir.wordpress.com/2019/04/07/one-year-ago-today-an-israeli-sniper-killed-
palestinian-photojournalist-yaser-murtaja/.
188
CPJ. Yaser Murtaja.
189
Fisk. ‘As the UN jabs nervously at the truth about Khashoggi, remember how often journalists’ deaths are brushed aside.’
190
CPJ. Yaser Murtaja.
Page 37
photojournalist Yaser Murtaja had been a secret agent for Hamas, disguised as a reporter,
withholding a rank similar to a captain.
191
No evidence was provided to support this claim.
192
In spite of this factor, this belief was advocated by both Ofir Gendelman, the current
spokesperson to the Arab media and David Keyes, an Israeli American Public Relations
representative.
193
Explicitly, David Keyes confidently told a reporter from The Jerusalem
Post that “I’ve seen the intelligence and there is not one scintilla of doubt about his [Yaser
Murtaja] being an officer in Hamas.”
194
Regardless of this conviction, both David Keyes’ and
the Israeli military had ultimately failed to unanimously receive both the domestic and
international support behind this notion.
Domestically, Ahmed Tibi, the leader of the Ta’al political party in Israel, dismissed the
assertions made by the former Israeli Defence Minister.
195
In addition to this, the human
rights organisation Al-Mezan, had expressed in an online report that Yaser Murtaja “didn’t
have a Hamas connection” and so described the IDF’s conclusion as “rubbish”.
196
,
197
Internationally, the Israeli military had once again received an array of criticism from non-
governmental organisations (NGOs), ranging from the International Federation of Journalists,
the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the UN. Collectively, all organisations
concluded that Yaser Murtaja had not been an imminent threat to either the people around
him or to the sniper stationed by the earth mound when he had been fatally shot. Explicitly,
the International Federation of Journalists concluded that the “Israeli soldiers murdered a
journalist,whilst also “fabricating lies to justify murder.”
198
In February 2019, the UN carried out an independent investigation into the incident and
found that the highly-skilled marksman had “intentionally shot” the Palestinian journalists
covering the GMR.
199
Soon after Murtaja had been killed, the CPJ had directly issued a letter
191
Noa Shpigel, and The Associated Press. ‘Slain Gaza Journalist, Branded Hamas Militant by Israel, Received U.S. Grant.’
Haaretz. April 10th 2018. Accessed on September 1st 2020. https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/gaza-journalist-branded-
hamas-militant-by-israel-received-u-s-funds-1.5990627.
192
Ibid.
193
Seth J. Frantzman. ‘Terrorist or Journalist? Who Really Was the Slain Gazan Yaser Murtaja?’ The Jerusalem Post. April
13th 2018. Accessed on August 5th 2020.https://www.jpost.com/arab-israeli-conflict/terrorist-or-journalist-who-really-was-
the-slain-gazan-yaser-murtaja-549709.
194
Ibid.
195
Ibid.
196
Fisk. ‘As the UN jabs nervously at the truth about Khashoggi, remember how often journalists’ deaths are brushed aside.’
197
Ibid.
198
Frantzman. ‘Terrorist or Journalist? Who really was the slain Gazan Yaser Murtaja.’
199
Landau. ‘UN Council: Israel Intentionally Shot Children and Journalists in Gaza’.
Page 38
to the current Israeli Prime Minister, demanding the “only democracy in the Middle-East” to
effectively hold the Israeli sniper accountable..
200
,
201
Ultimately, it is clear that the organisations’ or individuals’ which do not share similar
interests to that of the Israeli military had found the highly-skilled sniper guilty of carrying
out a democidal act of violence against an unarmed journalist, who had been documenting the
events unfolding during the GMR on April 6th, 2018.
Discussion:
The death of this unarmed civilian who was carrying out his work as an investigative
journalist was not out of necessity and amounts to a disproportionate use of force by the state
of Israel, the culprits of a war-crime. Moreover, Murtaja’s death highlights the democidal
nature embedded within Israel’s brutal open-fire policy conducted against journalists, a
provocative attempt to intentionally silence the media coverage capturing the crimes
committed by the ISF.
To reinforce my claim that the IDF had committed an act of democide via the death of Yaser
Murtaja, I wish to remind the readers how a sniper, aiming down their scope, clearly sees
your face, he sees your expressions, he sees your age, he sees where he wats the bullet to
lodge.”
202
In Yaser Murtaja’s case, “he [the sniper] knows exactly what kind of damage his
bullet will cause to that location.”
203
In relation to Dr. Ghassan Abu Sitta’s statement above, the Palestinian photojournalist was
struck by a bullet in the weak spot of his bullet-proof flak jacket, just below his arm, paving a
trajectory towards his abdomen. Ultimately, the precision behind this interpersonal attack
serves to emphasis the level of intimacy to inflict pain, therefore reinforcing the democidal
nature behind this act of violence carried out against an unarmed person, by a government
200
Ibid.
201
Muqtedar Khan. Israel: No More The “Only Democracy in the Middle East”. Center for Global Policy. 2018. Accessed
on August 8th 2020. p. 3.
https://www.academia.edu/37152942/Israel_No_More_The_Only_Democracy_in_the_Middle_East_
202
Perla. Interview with Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta. p. 51
203
Ibid.
Page 39
representative, specifically the IDF. Yaser Murtaja was the twenty-eighth Palestinian killed
within a week by the Israeli military.
204
The death of an unarmed reporter infringes on a plethora of international laws and
conventions purposefully designed to ensure their protection. Specifically, it violates the
United Nations Security Council Resolution 2222, which requires a sovereign state to ensure
the “protection of journalists, media professionals and associated personnel in armed
conflicts.”
205
Moreover, the resolution calls for the “conduct of impartial, independent and
effective investigations within their jurisdiction and to bring perpetrators of such crimes to
justice.
206
That said, no one has been held accountable for the death of Yaser Murtaja. Thus,
the lack of accountability combined with the culture of systematic impunity “has enabled
Israel to continue its oppressive policies in Gaza,” specifically against Palestinian journalists
in the Strip.
207
Time and time again, media professionals stationed within the Gaza Strip are subjected to an
excessive use of lethal force by the ISF. According to Amnesty International, since the
beginning of the march, at least two journalists had been fatally shot. The first victim was
Yaser Murtaja, the second, Ahmed Abu Hussein, who too was wearing a protective vest with
the words “PRESS” emblazed in bold.
208
According to Al-Mezan, both “journalists…were
also considered not to represent an imminent threat of death or serious injury to the Israeli
forces when they were shot, discrediting the legitimacy behind both attacks.
209
Between March 30th April 6th 2018, over thirty Palestinian reporters documenting the GMR
had been injured by the Israeli armed forces, eleven of which had been shot with live
ammunition.
210
,
211
That roughly equates to three journalists injured per day. Since the
beginning of the march, over one hundred and seventy reporters have been injured by the
204
BBC. ‘Israel to Investigate Killing of Palestinian Journalist’. BBC News. April 7th 2018. Accessed on August 20th 2020.
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-43683184.
205
United Nations Security Council. Resolution 2222. UNSCR. May 27, 2015. p. 1.
https://unscr.com/en/resolutions/doc/2222.
206
Ibid. p. 4
207
Defense for Children Palestine (DCIP). ‘Two Years On, No Accountability for Palestinian Child Protestors Killed by
Israeli Forces.’ DCIP. March 30th 2020. Accessed on October 3rd 2020. https://www.dci-
palestine.org/two_years_on_no_accountability_for_palestinian_child_protestors_killed_by_israeli_forces.
208
UNHRC. Report of the detailed findings of the independent international Commission of inquiry on the protests in the
Occupied Palestinian Territory. p. 154.
209
DCIP. ‘Two Years On, No Accountability for Palestinian Child Protestors Killed by Israeli Forces.
210
Al-Haq. ‘Israeli Occupying Forces Target Journalists Covering Gaza Protests, Killing One and Injuring Others’. Al-Haq.
April 12th 2018. Accessed on August 21st 2020. https://www.alhaq.org/monitoring-documentation/6244.html.
211
Ibid.
Page 40
ISF, with sixty-four of those injuries resulting from the use of high-velocity ammunition.
212
,
213
Moreover, more than thirty journalists had been attacked more than once by the ISF.
214
Graph 1:
Total number of injuries to journalists during the Great March of Return
between March 30th 31st December 2018.215
It must be clearly understood that the specific targeting of journalists in the Gaza Strip is not
a variable unique to the GMR alone. Within incidents in the past, Palestinian reporters
residing in the Strip have been killed intentionally by the Israeli military. Throughout
Operation Protective Edge, on July 9th 2014, Hamid Shehab, a Palestinian journalist that had
worked for 24 Media was deliberately struck by a rocket while driving his car, despite the
212
Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights. Attacks on Unarmed Protesters at the “Great March of Return. p. 17.
213
Ibid. p. 18.
214
Ibid. p. 17.
215
UNHRC. Report of the detailed findings of the independent international Commission of inquiry on the protests in the
Occupied Palestinian Territory. p. 155.
Page 41
fact that the automobile was branded as a press vehicle.
216
When questioned, the IDF claimed
that it had no initial information and asserted that the military will look into the incident for
more details.
217
Despite the IDF’s response, many international observers interpreted the death of Hamid
Shehab as “a deliberate and planned crime to discourage Palestinian journalists from showing
occupation crimes and horrors of collective punishment against the Gaza Strip.”
218
Hamid
Shehab had been one of the seventeen journalists killed during Operation Protective Edge,
the bloodiest year for reporters in Palestine.
219
,
220
Two years before the death of Hamid Shehab, the Israeli military orchestrated a series of four
coordinated artillery strikes in November 2012, resulting in the deaths of two Palestinian
cameramen.
221
Without providing any evidence to support their claims, the Israeli
government asserted that each of the four attacks had been directed against legitimate
military targets. Discrediting these claims, the New York Based NGO, Human Rights Watch
found “no indications that these targets were valid military objectives.”
222
Ultimately, through all of the examples mentioned above, you can pose the argument that the
Israeli military, pursuant to a government policy, had committed an act of democide. Despite
being both unarmed and uninvolved from any form of military activity, the IDF personnel
continued to purposefully strike Palestinian journalists in Gaza that had been documenting
the socio-political and human rights issues arising within the besieged Strip. Thus in
hindsight, it is of no surprise that the CPJ had interpreted Yaser Murtaja’s death as “part of
the pattern,” embedded within the ISF’s open-fire policy conducted against protesters in the
Gaza Strip during the GMR.
223
216
International Freedom of Expression Exchange. ‘A List of Journalists Attacked by Israeli Forces in Gaza.’ IFEX. July
25th 2014. Accessed on December 1st 2020. https://ifex.org/a-list-of-journalists-attacked-by-israeli-forces-in-gaza/.
217
Mohammed Omer. ‘Palestinian Journalists Under Israeli Fire.’ Al Jazeera. July 11th 2014. Accessed on December 1st
2020. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2014/7/11/palestinian-journalists-under-israeli-fire.
218
Ibid.
219
The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center. Examination of the Names of 17 Journalists and Media
Personnel Whom the Palestinians Claim Were Killed in Operation Protective Edge. The Meir Amit Intelligence and
Terrorism Information Center. February 11th 2015. Accessed December 5, 2020. p. 1. https://www.terrorism-
info.org.il//Data/articles/Art_20771/E_013_15_299752333.pdf
220
Ibid. p. 3.
221
HRW. ‘Israel/Gaza: Unlawful Israeli Attacks on Palestinian Media.’ December 20th 2012. Accessed on December 29th
2020. https://www.hrw.org/news/2012/12/20/israel/gaza-unlawful-israeli-attacks-palestinian-media
222
Ibid.
223
Ali Abunimah. ‘Reporters Without Borders Accepts Prize from Journalist-killing Regime.’ The Electronic Intifada. May
28th 2019. Accessed on September 4th 2020. https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/reporters-without-borders-
accepts-prize-journalist-killing-regime.
Page 42
Consequently, by purposefully shooting Yaser Murtaja underneath his arm, well aware that
this was one of the only few weak spots within his protective bulletproof vest, the Israeli
Sniper, whose identity remains anonymous, had committed an act of democide. Via the
extensive training exercises, the highly skilled marksman would be well aware of the level of
damage expected by precisely aiming at that specific location and so the likelihood that this
attack may result in death.
Thus, as a result of this precise, pre-meditated attack against an unarmed journalist, the Israeli
military not only committed an act of democide, but also a war crime and is subjected to
prosecution under Article 8(2)(b)(i) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal
Court.
224
,
225
In spite of committing a war crime, the state of Israel has not held any individual
nor institution accountable for the killing of Palestinian journalists during either Operation
Protective Edge or the GMR.
226
224
Ibid.
225
International Criminal Court. Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. July 17th 1998. Accessed on 19th
September 2020. p. 7. https://www.icc-cpi.int/resource-library/documents/rs-eng.pdf.
226
Amnesty International. ‘Justice for Victims of War Crimes in Gaza Conflict.’ Amnesty International. 2014. Accessed
December 5, 2020. https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/campaigns/2015/07/justice-victims-war-crimes-gaza-conflict/.
Page 43
Chapter 4.2
Razan Ashraf Abdul Qadir al-Najjar
“I was proud and calm because she was a paramedic, and
I believed the Israeli military wouldn’t harm her.
Sabreen al-Najjar
reflecting on the death
of her daughter, Razan
227
al-Najjar.
Introduction:
Razan al-Najjar was a 21-year-old
Palestinian paramedic that had been
killed by an Israeli sniper during the
GMR on June 1st, 2018.
228
Miss
al-Najjar had lived in Khuza’a, a
Palestinian town located in the Khan
Yunis Governorate in the southern
Gaza Strip, roughly five-hundred
meters away from the barbed wire
fence.
229
Image 5: Razan al Najjar.230
On June 1st 2018, thousands of Palestinians began to collectively protest alongside the 1949
demarcation line that separated the Gaza Strip from Israel. Tires were torched and stones
were thrown to distract the Israeli soldiers stationed alongside the fence, as a minority of
227
B'Tselem. ‘Paramedic Rozan A-Najar Was Killed by Deliberate Fire.’ B'Tselem. July 16th 2018. Accessed on October 3rd
2020. https://www.btselem.org/press_releases/20180718_paramedic_rozan_a_najar_killed_by_deliberate_fire.
228
Ibid.
229
Ali Abunimah. ‘Remembering Razan Al-Najjar, Honoring Health Workers.’ The Electronic Intifada. June 1st 2020.
Accessed on September 28th 2020. https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/remembering-razan-al-najjar-honoring-
health-workers.
230
Middle East Eye. ‘I See My Daughter Razan in the Eyes of Every Young Palestinian.’ Middle East Eye. March 21st 2019.
Accessed on September 25th 2020. https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/i-see-my-daughter-razan-eyes-every-young-
palestinian.
Page 44
Palestinians continued to push towards the barbed wire fence.
231
The ISF responded by firing
canisters containing either tear or nerve gas towards the concentrated crowds.
232
Furthermore,
live rounds were also shot near the feet of Palestinians as a scare tactic, in an attempt to
disband the protest.
233
By large, these crowd controlling techniques failed, as Palestinian
demonstrators drew closer to the fence.
According to the New York Times (NYT) and B’Tselem, by 18:00 PM a group of
paramedics including Razan al-Najjar had approached the fence with their hands held up in
the air to evacuate two young men suffering from teargas inhalation.
234
After evacuating the
two protesters, Rami Abu Jazar, a Palestinian paramedic who had served alongside Miss. al-
Najjar on the day of her death, claimed that the atmosphere “was very calm” as “there was no
action.”
235
However, very soon the tempo of the atmosphere had drastically increased. Rami
Abu Jazar informed a B’Tselem reporter that “at around a quarter to six, we saw two soldiers
get out of a military jeep, kneel and aim their guns at us, taking up a sniper stance.”
236
At 18:31, an Israeli sniper who has yet to be identified had fired a bullet towards a crowded
group of civilians, from a sand beam over one hundred metres away.
237
One bullet had
penetrated three paramedics.
238
Essentially the metal projectile had ricocheted and
“exploded,” piercing Razan al-Najjar’s chest, severing her aorta artery, tearing Rami Abu
Jazar’s left leg whilst also crippling Palestinian paramedic Mohammed Shafee, who received
shrapnel in both his right hand and pelvic area.
239
,
240
Rami Abu Jazar and Mohammed Shafee had received treatment for their shrapnel wounds
and were later discharged from the hospital. However, Razan al-Najjar who had been taken to
231
B'Tselem. Paramedic Rozan A-Najar Was Killed by Deliberate Fire.
232
Halbfinger. A Day, a life: When a Medic was Killed in Gaza.
233
B'Tselem. Paramedic Rozan A-Najar Was Killed by Deliberate Fire.
234
Halbfinger. A Day, a life: When a Medic was Killed in Gaza.
235
David Halbfinger, John Woo, Malachy Browne & Yousur Al-Hlou. ‘An Israeli Soldier Killed a Medic in Gaza: We
Investigated the Fatal Shot.’ December 30th 2018. Accessed on November 1st 2020. 09: 18.
https://www.nytimes.com/video/world/middleeast/100000005933727/israel-gaza-medic-killed-rouzan-
najjar.html#:~:text=and%20David%20M.,On%20June%201%2C%20an%20Israeli%20soldier%20shot%20into%20a%20cr
owd,fire%20as%20a%20last%20resort.&text=commanders%20to%20reveal%20how%20Rouzan%20was%20killed.,-
Advertisement.
236
B'Tselem. Paramedic Rozan A-Najar Was Killed by Deliberate Fire.
237
Halbfinger. A Day, a Life: When a Medic was Killed in Gaza.
238
Ibid.
239
Halbfinger, Woo, Browne & Al-Hlou. ‘An Israeli Soldier Killed a Medic in Gaza.’ 09.39 Seconds.
240
B'Tselem. Paramedic Rozan A-Najar Was Killed by Deliberate Fire.
Page 45
the European Hospital South of Khan Yunis, was pronounced dead at 19:10, after thirty
minutes of resuscitation attempts.
241
The Investigation:
As months passed, the IDF was subjected to both external and internal scrutiny, soon
pressurizing the institution to conduct a criminal investigation into her death on October 29th
2018, one-hundred and fifty days after Razan al-Najjar was killed.
242
Initially, the IDF
Spokesperson, Colonel Conricus conceded that the killing of Ms. Najjar was unintended,
asserting that “she was not a target,” reminding the international community that “none of the
medical personnel are ever a target.”
243
Soon after Miss al-Najjar’s death, the IDF declared
that the Palestinian paramedic had been accidentally killed by an Israeli sniper who was
supposedly aiming at someone else.
244
However, very soon after adopting this notion, the army’s social media unit began a
coordinated smear campaign against the paramedic, suggesting that she had either been
engaged in some form of rioting, or had attended the protest to shield Hamas militants
disguised as protesters.
245
Several Israeli representatives and diplomats had adopted the latter
notion and began to tweet a deceptively edited video, released by the IDF, titled “Hamas’ use
of human shield must stop,” with the hope to tarnish the image of Razan al-Najjar.
246
,
247
The
video portrayed a female medic, wearing a hijab, throwing a gas canister in the air, with a
subtitle that reads “this medic was incited by Hamas to give up her life for their goals.”
248
,
249
241
Halbfinger, Woo, Browne & Al-Hlou. ‘An Israeli Soldier Killed a Medic in Gaza.’ 09.45 Seconds.
242
Ali Abunimah. ‘Israeli Sniper Deliberately Killed Medic Razan Al-Najjar, Investigation Finds.’ The Electronic Intifada.
July 17th 2018. https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israeli-sniper-deliberately-killed-medic-razan-al-najjar-
investigation-finds. Accessed on September 28th 2020.
243
Halbfinger. A Day, a Life: When a Medic was Killed in Gaza.
244
Robert Mackey. ‘Israel Attempts to Smear Razan Al-Najjar, Palestinian Medic It Killed, Calling Her “No Angel”.’ The
Intercept. June 8th 2018. Accessed on September 29th 2020. https://theintercept.com/2018/06/08/israel-attempts-smear-razan-
al-najjar-palestinian-medic-killed-calling-no-angel/
245
Ibid.
246
The Independent. ‘Israeli Army Edits Video of Palestinian Medic Its Troops Shot Dead to Misleadingly Show She Was a
“human Shield for Hamas.”’ The Independent. June 11th 2018. Accessed on September 29th 2020.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/gaza-protests-latest-idf-condemned-edited-video-angel-mercy-
medic-razan-al-najjar-a8389611.html
247
Mackey. ‘Israel Attempts to Smear Razan al-Najjar.’
248
Erakat. The Sovereign Right to Kill. p. 786.
249
UNHRC. Report of the detailed findings of the independent international Commission of inquiry on the protests in the
Occupied Palestinian Territory. p. 193.
Page 46
The video was shared via social media by Mark Regev, former Israeli ambassador to the
United Kingdom and Avichay Adraee, an Arabic language spokesperson for the IDF, who
personally emphasised that “Razan al Najjar is not the angel of mercy that Hamas
propaganda attempts to portray.”
250
To conclude, the IDF’s investigation claimed that Razan
al-Najjar had links to the militant organisation Hamas, retaining a set of ulterior motives
during the GMR.
On the contrary, B’Tselem, who too conducted an investigation into Razan al-Najjar’s death
found that she “was fatally shot by a member of the security forces who was aiming directly
at her as she was standing about 25 meters away from the fence, despite the fact that she
posed no danger to him or anyone else and was wearing a medical uniform.”
251
Similar notions were expressed by David M Halbfinger and a team of journalists representing
the NYT, who had collectively conducted an investigation into the death of Miss al-Najjar.
The NYT analysed over a thousand detailed crowd-sourced videos and photographs taken on
June 1st 2018, whilst also interviewing over thirty individuals - with the ultimate aim to
reconstruct and understand the events that took place on June 1st 2018. After analysing a
detailed reconstruction of the event, the NYT concluded that the shooting was unjustified
given that “we don’t see a single protester or violent threat within 100 yards of the fence.”
252
Shockingly, the team of journalists found that the bullet which had killed Ms. Najjar was
fired towards a crowd of white-coated medics who, according to David M. Halbfinger, were
in plain sight.
253
Following the conclusions adopted by both B’Tselem and the NYT, the IDF received further
criticism for deceitfully editing a video to purposefully tarnish the image of Razan al-Najjar,
with the hope to clear both the soldier and the military institution from any wrongdoings.
To sum up, both B’Tselem and the NYT found that the Palestinian paramedic posed no threat
whatsoever to the people around her or the Israeli sniper that had killed Miss al-Najjar.
Moreover, the investigation established the notion that there was no conscious attempt carried
250
Mackey. Israel Attempts to Smear Razan al-Najjar.
251
Abunimah. ‘Israeli Sniper Deliberately Killed Medic Razan Al-Najjar, Investigation Finds.’
252
Halbfinger, Woo, Browne & Al-Hlou. ‘An Israeli Soldier Killed a Medic in Gaza: We Investigated the Fatal Shot.’ 13:53
Seconds.
253
Halbfinger. A Day, a Life: When a Medic was Killed in Gaza.
Page 47
out by the Palestinian paramedic to break the separation fence.
254
Therefore, the “intentional
killing of an unarmed or disarmed person by a government agent acting in their authoritative
capacity and pursuant to government policy or high command,” amounts to a war crime and
serves to expose the democidal traits embedded within the ISF’s open-fire policy.
255
Discussion:
The killing of this unarmed paramedic, who did not pose as an imminent threat to the Israeli
sniper or to the people around her, was not out of necessity and amounts to an excessive use
of force by the state of Israel. By shooting a bullet designed for a sniper rifle towards a
concentrated group of people, the highly-skilled Israeli sniper retained a “reckless and
wanton disregard for the lives of those affected” and is therefore guilty of committing an act
of democide.
256
Disturbingly, many of the individuals within this concentrated group had worn white-coated
uniforms that day, informing the marksman that they were professional medical personnel.
Moreover, all white-coated medics were unarmed and none of them had engaged in any form
of violent activity at the time Miss. al-Najjar had been fatally shot. With this in mind, the
Israeli military has failed to provide any legitimate reasoning to justify the targeting and
subsequent killing of Razan al-Najjar on June 1st 2018.
To briefly mention, the killing of an unarmed paramedic infringes on a number of
international laws and conventions purposefully designed to ensure their protection.
Theoretically, “medical personnel exclusively assigned to medical duties must be respected
and protected in all circumstance,” according to Rule 25 of the Customary International
Humanitarian Law.
257
254
Yossi Beilin. ‘Israel’s ‘shooting Routine’ on Gaza Border.’ Al-Monitor. January 7th 2019. Accessed on December 1st
2020. https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/01/israel-gaza-strip-palestinians-demonstrations-paramedic-idf.html.
255
Gleditsch. R.J. Rummel: An Assessment of His Many Contributions. p. 112.
256
Rummel. Death by Government. p. 42
257
International Committee of the Red Cross. ‘Rule 25. Medical Personnel.’ International Committee of Red Cross. 1949
Accessed on December 29, 2020.
https://ihldatabases.icrc.org/customaryihl/eng/docs/v1_rul_rule25#:~:text=light%20individual%20weapons,Rule%2025.,acts
%20harmful%20to%20the%20enemy
Page 48
In spite of this convention, a total of three Palestinian medical workers had been killed during
the GMR between the period of March 30th to December 31st 2018.
258
The first victim had
been Musa Abu Hassainen, a thirty-five-year-old Civil Defence paramedic who was shot in
his chest, on May 14th 2018.
259
The second, Razan al-Najjar. The third was Abed Abdullah
Al-Qotati, a twenty-two-year-old volunteer that had been fatally struck by a bullet in his back
whilst holding a red first-aid kit, tending to an injured demonstrator on August 10th, 2018.
260
According to the UNHRC, all three victims had worn medical clothing items the day that
they had been killed which clearly distinguished their profession and thus their purpose
during the GMR. Moreover, all three medical professionals posed no threat to the ISF, or to
the people around them at the moment they had been killed.
261
,
262
Despite this, all paramedics
mentioned above were struck by a metal projectile above their waist by an Israeli sniper, who
was determined to exert a deadly use of force towards Palestinian health workers in the Gaza
Strip during the GMR. Thus, within each of these cases, you can pose the argument that the
Israeli military had committed an act of democide, by purposefully shooting unarmed
paramedics in areas which in many cases proved to be fatal.
Essentially, the death of Razan al-Najjar serves as a poignant illustration representing the
IDF’s willingness to use battlefield weapons against unarmed paramedics. This case study
example vividly portrayed the Israeli military’s indiscriminate open-fire policy, a framework
that essentially welcomes the likelihood of acts of democide to arise. Due to this framework,
it would be incorrect to assume that democidal acts of violence, specifically towards
Palestinian paramedics, is a variable unique to the GMR alone.
258
UNHRC. Report of the detailed findings of the independent international Commission of inquiry on the protests in the
Occupied Palestinian Territory. p. 150.
259
Ibid. p. 151.
260
Ibid. p. 152.
261
Ibid.
262
Ibid. 151.
Page 49
Graph 2:
Total number of Injuries to health workers during the Great March of
Return between March 30th 31st December 2018.263
During Operation Protective Edge (2014), there had been continuous attacks on hospitals,
medical personnel, rescue teams and ambulances.”
264
Throughout this military campaign, a
minimum of twenty-three health workers had been killed as a direct consequence of artillery
fire, orchestrated by the Israeli military.
265
In some incidents, the IDF intentionally targeted
263
Ibid. p. 150.
264
Gaelle Dusepulchre and Manuel Lambert. Trapped and Punished. The Gaza Civilian Population under Operation
Protective Edge. FIDH - International Federation for Human Rights. 2015. Accessed on October 24th 2020. p. 30.
https://palestina-komitee.nl/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Gaza-Trapped-and-Punished-FIDH-2015.pdf
265
Ibid. p. 31.
Page 50
vehicles transporting the injured and hospitals housing the wounded.
266
,
267
In all cases, the
World Health Organisation concluded that the deceased medical workers had died as a result
of the IDF’s “direct targeting of health facilities,” as more than fifty medical related
installations all throughout the Strip had been attacked, with one hospital and seven health
care facilities being completely destroyed by the Israeli military.
268
In relation to these artillery assaults, the Israeli military “released insufficient information
regarding the specific military objectives of its attacks,” which essentially discredits the
notion that there had been some form of military activity within or around the specific health
facilities it had attacked.
269
Moreover, eye-witness accounts told an independent commission
representing the UNHRC that only “civilians were the victims of the IDF barrage” against the
health facilities within the Strip.
270
By dropping a number of artillery shells on health facilities designed to safeguard the
wounded and protect the sick, the Israeli military by large held a wanton, disregard for the
human life at cost within these targeted areas, a fundamental democidal characteristic.
271
To mention briefly, medical institutions and facilities are theoretically protected under Article
19 of the Geneva Convention I which explicitly states that “medical service may in in no
circumstances be attacked, but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to
the conflict.”
272
However, throughout Operation Protective Edge, the Israeli military had
targeted medical institutions which resulted in the death of over twenty health care workers.
This fact serves to reinforce the claim that the Israeli military had not only violated Article 19
of the Geneva Convention, yet had also orchestrated a number of democidal acts of violence
in the past.
266
Ibid. p. 30.
267
Ibid. p. 3.
268
Arvind Reddy. Israeli Violations of International Humanitarian Law During Operation Protective Edge. 2015-2016. p.
135. https://prizedwriting.ucdavis.edu/sites/prizedwriting.ucdavis.edu/files/users/mtrujil3/131PW%20Reddy.pdf
269
UNHRC. United Nations General Assembly. Report of the independent commission of inquiry established pursuant to
Human Rights Council resolution S-21/1. United Nations Digital Library. 2015. Accessed on October 25th 2020. p. 19.
https://digitallibrary.un.org/record/800872?ln=en
270
Reddy. Israeli Violations of International Humanitarian Law During Operation Protective Edge. p. 144.
271
Rummel. Death by Government. p. 36
272
International Committee of the Red Cross. Practice Relating to Rule 28. Medical Units. International Committee of Red
Cross. 1949. Accessed December 8, 2020. https://ihl-databases.icrc.org/customary-ihl/eng/docs/v2_rul_rule28
Page 51
To conclude, it is evidently clear that democide, as a theoretical concept is not just applicable
to the GMR. As this discussion demonstrated, democidal traits were evidently embedded
within past military campaigns conducted by the IDF, such as Operation Protective Edge,
which ultimately resulted in the deaths of many unarmed, innocent medical health workers.
Therefore, it is clear that the targeting and killing of medical officials in Gaza by the Israeli
military is not an anomaly. As this sub-chapter highlighted, the Israeli military had
coordinated artillery and drone strikes specifically against innocent medical personnel
throughout Operation Protective Edge, violating a plethora of international laws and
conventions designed to safeguard medical officials in times of conflict or dispute.
Furthermore, this chapter exposed the IDF’s willingness to intentionally target and kill
white-coated medical officials, such as Razan al-Najjar, in the Gaza Strip during the GMR.
To conclude, the excessive use of lethal force that translates into the killing of unarmed
paramedics who are theoretically protected under international law, constitutes as an act of
democide.
Page 52
Chapter 4.3
Ahmad Misabah Abu Tyour
“Ahmad loved to listen to dahiya dance music and dance the dabkeh. Since he died,
I haven’t been able to hear dahiya songs because they remind me of him. I keep
watching the footage of his injury over and over again, despite the pain. His crying
out still pain me. I wish I’d taken the bullet instead of him.”
Aidah Abu Tyour reflecting on the death
of her son.273
Introduction:
Ahmad Misabah Abu Tyour was a 16-year-old Palestinian teenager that had been killed by an
Israeli sniper during the GMR on September 7th, 2018. Born in Rafah, a Palestinian city in
the Southern Gaza-Strip, Abu Tyour grew
up in a besieged environment, forced to
witness the destruction caused by the
many military assaults conducted by the
IDF since 2008. On Friday 7th September
2018, Ahmad Abu Tyour was waving his
hands at an Israeli sniper stationed
alongside the separation fence, standing
by the concertina wire laid out by the
IDF.
274
Image 6:
Ahmad Misabah Abu Tyour.275
273
B'Tselem. ‘In 6 Months of Gaza Protests, Israeli Forces Fatally Shoot 31 Palestinian Minors.’ B'Tselem. October 15th
2018. Accessed on September 30th 2020.
https://www.btselem.org/firearm/20181015_31_minors_killed_in_gaza_protests_in_6_months
274
Ibid.
275
Ibid.
Page 53
Describing the atmosphere moments before his brothers’ death, Tamer Abu Tyour told a
B’Tselem field researcher how “soldiers fired live bullets at us from the red tower. Ahmad
was standing by the fence with his hands up in the air, about 25 meters away from me when
suddenly he fell down.”
276
At roughly 18:00, Ahmad Abu Tyour was fatally shot in his thigh by an Israeli sniper
stationed alongside the separation fence.
277
Describing the feeling as “electricity going
through my leg”, the bullet had ravaged Ahmad’s femoral artery.
278
,
279
After being rushed
into an ambulance, Abu Tyour was driven to the European Gaza Hospital undergoing two
major surgeries during which “Ahmad’s heart had stopped twice,” with the hope to suture the
severed artery.
280
As hours passed, Abu Tyour’s physical state had worsened. Despite being
given several blood transfusions, on Saturday 8th September, at 11:00, Ahmad Abu Tyour had
died.
281
The Investigation:
Soon after the teenager’s death, the IDF instrumentally issued a statement claiming that the
“appropriate authorities” will conduct an inquiry, ensuring that “the events [on September 7th,
2018] will be reviewed by the relevant command echelons.”
282
,
283
After the relevant
command echelons reviewed the incident, the Israeli military concluded that in relation to the
“violent disturbances along the fence, IDF soldiers responded with riot control measures and
acted in accordance with open-fire regulations, on September 7th 2018.
284
,
285
Whether the
state of Israel believes that such “riot control measures” should result in the death of a
sixteen-year-old teenager is a separate matter of discussion.
276
Ibid.
277
UNHRC Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian
Territory. p. 13.
278
Ibid.
279
B'Tselem. ‘In 6 Months of Gaza Protests, Israeli Forces Fatally Shoot 31 Palestinian Minors.’
280
Ibid.
281
Ibid.
282
Myriam Puurtscher. ‘Two Palestinian Teenagers Killed in Ongoing Protests in Gaza.’ Palestine Monitor. September 10th
2018. Accessed on September 2nd 2020. https://www.palestinemonitor.org/details.php?id=mw9n5da20456y2h0rx3fv3
283
I24News. ‘IDF to Investigate shooting of two Gazan teens killed during border clashes.’ I24News. September 9th 2018.
Accessed on November 1st 2020. https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/international/middle-east/183742-180908-shooting-of-
palestinian-teen-at-gaza-border-riots-caught-on-video
284
Ibid.
285
Puurtscher. Two Palestinian Teenagers Killed in Ongoing Protests in Gaza.
Page 54
Soon after adopting this conclusion the Israeli military, once again, reminded the general
public that the militant organisation governing the region, Hamas, was using the protest as an
excuse to carry out a series of armed attacks against the Zionist state. By doing so, Israeli
high officials had essentially shifted the responsibility of Abu Tyour’s death, from the Israeli
sniper that had pulled the trigger, to the shoulders of the Islamist government.
286
Domestically, NGOs in the region such as B’Tselem, had found that the sixteen-year-old
teenager was not an imminent threat to either the people around him or to the ISF at the time
he had been fatally shot.
287
Moreover, this notion was also propagated by the leading left-
wing Israeli media outlet, Haaretz, that had published an article titled 16-year-old Gazan Shot
to Death by Israeli Soldiers While Waving His Hands; Army to Investigate Incident (2018),
providing video footage of the incident to support this claim.
288
Internationally, organisations
such as the UNHRC found that Abu Tyour, who had been unarmed, was fatally shot whilst
performing “a traditional Palestinian dance, along with his hands in the air.”
289
As a result, human rights organisations in the region, such as the Defence for Children
International Palestine concluded that the deliberate targeting and subsequent killing of this
Palestinian teenager was a crime against humanity, violating international law, thus
amounting to a war crime which the state of Israel and the soldier specifically must be held
effectively accountable for.
290
Discussion:
Ahmad Abu Tyour was not an imminent threat to the IDF or to the Palestinian demonstrators
near him, yet was fatally shot by an Israeli sniper stationed by the separation fence while the
unarmed sixteen-year-old boy was waving his hands towards the sky. As the UNHRC
concluded, the Palestinian boy was not a representative of Hamas, uninvolved in any form of
286
I24News. IDF to Investigate shooting of two Gazan teens killed during border clashes.
287
B'Tselem. In 6 Months of Gaza Protests, Israeli Forces Fatally Shoot 31 Palestinian Minors.
288
Jack Khoury, Yaniv Kubovich, and Almog Ben Zikri. ‘16-year-old Gazan Shot to Death by Israeli Soldiers While
Waving His Hands; Army to Investigate Incident.’ Haaretz. September 8th 2018. Accessed on November 3rd 2020.
https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/video-shows-16-year-old-gazan-shot-by-israeli-soldiers-while-waving-hands-
1.6463970.
289
UNHRC. Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian
Territory. p. 13.
290
DCIP. ‘Two years on, no accountability for Palestinian child protesters killed by Israeli forces.’
Page 55
militant activity on September 7th 2018.
291
Ultimately, the state of Israel has failed to provide
a legitimate justification in accordance with international law explaining why this child was
killed by a highly-skilled Israeli marksman. To stress, a metal projectile designed for a sniper
rifle, piercing a sixteen-year-old in his thigh can have life-threatening consequences, a fact
which the Israeli military, specifically the well-trained sniper was well aware of.
Since the beginning of the protest, a minimum of forty-eight children had been killed and six
hundred and twenty-five injured by live fire from the IDF.
292
,
293
Despite there being over
forty children deaths, only four criminal investigations were opened by the state of Israel.
294
Ahmad Abu Tour was the fourteenth child that had been killed by an Israeli sniper stationed
alongside the separation fence during the GMR. Within the same month of Abu Tyour’s
death, fourteen-year-old Mohamed Naiyf al-Houm was fatally shot in his abdomen, east of
al-Boreij refugee camp by an Israeli sniper during the social protest.
295
On that very same
day, twelve-year-old Nasser Azmi Musbih was shot in the head.
296
It must be noted that children enjoy a special form of protection under international law. The
Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990) was purposefully designed to protect children’s
right to life.
297
Specifically, Article 19 declared that “State Parties shall take all appropriate
legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms
of physical or mental violence.”
298
However, via the pre-mediated killing of Ahmad Abu
Tyour and many other Palestinian children during the GMR, the Israeli military had violated
Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This notion was also expressed by
the UNHRC, who claimed “that Israel violated those rights when its forces used lethal force
against children who did not pose an imminent threat of death or serious injury to others at
the time they were shot.”
299
291
UNHRC. Report of the detailed findings of the independent international Commission of inquiry on the protests in the
Occupied Palestinian Territory. p. 148.
292
DCIP. ‘Two Years On, No Accountability for Palestinian Child Protestors Killed by Israeli Forces.’
293
Al-Mezan. Attacks on Unarmed Protesters at the “Great March of Return”. p. 7.
294
UNHRC. Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian
Territory. p 19.
295
Amnesty International. Six Months on: Gaza's "Great March of Return."
296
Ibid.
297
Office of the High Commission for Human Rights. Convention on the Rights of the Child. United Nations Human Rights
Office of the High Commissioner. 1989. Accessed on October 31st 2020. p. 1.
https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/ProfessionalInterest/crc.pdf.
298
Ibid. p. 5.
299
Ibid. p. 19.
Page 56
Furthermore, the UNHRC “finds reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli snipers shot them
intentionally, knowing that they were children.
300
,
301
Ultimately, the qualitative and
quantitative information available portrays a willingness, on behalf of the ISF, to
systematically target and instrumentally kill children, such as Ahmad Abu Tyour, throughout
the GMR.
Graph 3:
Total number of injuries to children during the Great March of Return
between March 30th 31st December 2018.302
It must be understood that since the imposition of the military siege, Palestinian children
residing within the Gaza Strip are subjected to an increasing excessive level of military force,
exerted by the IDF. Therefore, it would be incorrect to assume that no acts of democide
committed against Palestinian children in Gaza took place, prior to 2018.
300
Landau. ‘UN Council: Israel Intentionally shot Children and Journalists in Gaza.’
301
UNHRC. Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the protests in the Occupied Palestinian
Territory. p. 13.
302
UNHRC. Report of the detailed findings of the independent international Commission of inquiry on the protests in the
Occupied Palestinian Territory. p. 142.
Page 57
Throughout Operation Protective Edge (2014), a minimum of five hundred and thirty
children had been killed by a direct attack orchestrated by the Israeli military.
303
Almost
sixty-eight percent of the children killed had been twelve years of age or younger.
304
Throughout this military operation, the IDF had “committed grave violations against children
in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” killing a minimum of eighteen children specifically
by drone and artillery strikes conducted against schools in the region.
305
To reinforce the notion that the Israeli military had committed an act of democide during this
epoch, this chapter briefly investigates two incidents below, exposing how unarmed children
had been intentionally killed by a government agent, pursuant to government policy or high
command.
On July 16th 2014, at roughly 15:30 the Israeli naval forces “directly targeted and killed four
boys” from the Bakr family “while they played on a Gaza City Beach”, as a result of a co-
ordinated artillery attack.
306
In response to the domestic and international backlash, the IDF
admitted that this had been a “tragic outcome”, reaffirming the notion that “the incident took
place that had long been known as a compound belonging to Hamas.
307
Such a statement
however fails to exonerate the state of Israel from this act of democide, especially given that
international journalists stationed in nearby hotels in the region reported no militant activity
in that specific area, at the time the Bakr family had been present on the beach.
308
Disturbingly, this had not been the first time during this military campaign whereby unarmed
children, not involved in any form of military activity, had been intentionally killed via a co-
ordinated artillery or drone attack by a government representative, pursuant to a policy or
high command.
On August 3rd 2014, an Israeli drone had deliberately fired a missile at a UNRWA run
school in the north of Gaza, killing a minimum of nine children.
309
Discrediting the
303
DCIP. Operation Protective Edge: A War Waged on Gaza's Children. DCIP. April 16th 2015. Accessed on December 2nd
2020. p. 1. https://www.dcipalestine.org/operation_protective_edge_a_war_waged_on_gaza_s_children
304
Ibid. p.20.
305
Ibid. p. 71.
306
Ibid. p. 25.
307
Muhammad Hussein. "Remembering Israel's Killing of Four Children on the Beach in Gaza." Middle East Monitor. July
16th 2020. Accessed on December 11th 2020. https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200716-remembering-israels-killing-of-
four-children-on-the-beach-in-gaza/
308
Ibid.
309
DCIP. Operation Protective Edge: A war waged on Gaza’s children. p. 12.
Page 58
legitimacy behind such an attack, the DCIP, whom conducted an investigation into this
specific incident found no reports to indicate any form of military activity within or near the
educational institution at the time it had been attacked.
310
Therefore, by intentionally carrying
out a co-ordinated strike upon a beach and an educational institution, despite there being no
indication of military activity, thus killing unarmed children, the Israeli military had
committed an act of democide on both July 16th and August 3rd 2014.
In total, the Israeli military had completely destroyed two educational institutions, damaging
a minimum of one hundred and eighty-seven government schools, as well as ninety-two
UNRWA run schools.
311
As a result of such precise pre-meditated attacks, a minimum of
eighteen children inside or near an educational institution had been killed by Israeli artillery
shelling during Operation Protective Edge.
312
Following this military campaign, the former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon
(2007 2016) denounced these “criminal acts” of democide conducted against children,
demanding the Israeli military, the culprits of a war crime, to be held accountable for the
“gross violation of international humanitarian law”.
313
310
Ibid. p. 73.
311
Ibid. p. 71.
312
Ibid.
313
Jason Burke. "Gaza School Attack Denounced As 'criminal Act' by UN Chief." The Guardian. August 3rd 2014. Accessed
on December 27th 2020. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/03/israel-air-strike-un-school-gaza-
rafah#:~:text=A%20deadly%20attack%20on%20a,general%2C%20Ban%20Ki%2Dmoon.&text=United%20Nations%20offi
cials%20in%20Gaza,incident%22%20or%20an%20air%20strike
Page 59
Table 2:
Table below charts the total number of children killed within Israeli
military offensives in the Gaza Strip since 2008.314
Essentially, Palestinian children residing in the Gaza Strip are subjected to a gross use of
lethal force by the IDF. As this chapter demonstrated, within past military operations the
Israeli military have committed acts of democide against children, who were intentionally
targeted and killed by either a co-ordinated artillery or drone strikes. Continuing this trend,
throughout the GMR, many unarmed children like Ahmad Abu Tyour was fatally shot with
live rounds of ammunition by Israeli snipers stationed on top of the earth mounds near the
1949 armistice line. Ultimately, the death of Ahmad Abu Tyour and many other Palestinians
under the age of eighteen throughout the GMR represents the IDF’s willingness to
intentionally use live ammunition against innocent unarmed children, an act of violence
which constitutes as democide.
314
Ibid. p. 9.
Page 60
Conclusion
There is a level of intimacy in sniper injuries that doesn’t exist in other acts of war. For
example, a fighter pilot travelling at 15,000 feet in the air will not see their victims’ faces,
nor will an artillery gunner. But the sniper sees your face…he sees where he wats the
bullet to lodge, he knows exactly what kind of damage his bullet will cause to that location.
So, it’s an intimate crime…it’s a much crueller crime.”
Dr. Ghassan Abu Sitta (2018).315
The first conclusion drawn from this study is that the IDF, via its pre-meditated military
blockade on Gaza embedded within an economic warfare campaign, had committed an act of
democide. As chapter two portrayed, the IDF’s siege on Gaza directly resulted in the deaths
of cancer patients and the elderly residing in the Strip, whose ability to receive effective
medical assistance was greatly limited due to the constraints imposed upon their movement.
Therefore, chapter two of this study finds that the IDF held a wanton disregard for the lives
of over two million people living in the Gaza Strip. To reinforce the notion that the IDF had
committed an act of democide, this paper wishes to remind the readers, that a military siege
which subsequently contributes to a humanitarian disaster, resulting in the death of an
individual can be interpreted as an act of democide, a notion expressed in Rudolph Rummel’s
book titled, Democracy, Power, Genocide, and Mass Murder (1995).
The second conclusion drawn from this paper was that throughout Operation Protective Edge
(2014), the Israeli military had deliberately killed unarmed civilians in Gaza, ranging from
medical personal, reporters and children. As chapter four demonstrated, the IDF, abiding by
the Dahiya doctrine, had coordinated a series of aerial strikes against hospitals, schools and
news stations in the region. In other words, the Israeli military had recklessly carried out a set
of destructive acts of violence against civil institutions, well aware of the risks involved and
the potential damage that this attack may cause upon that location and the human lives at
cost. As the Israeli military had intentionally killed unarmed medical officials, media
correspondents and children throughout this military campaign, this study finds that the IDF,
the culprits of a war crime, had committed an act of democide.
315
Issa. Interview with Dr Ghassan Abu Sitta. p.51.
Page 61
The third conclusion drawn from this research project was that the Israeli military,
specifically the highly skilled snipers stationed by the demarcation fence that separates the
Gaza Strip from the state of Israel, had intentionally shot unarmed Palestinians participating
in the Great March of Return, above their torso, in their chest, neck and head. As discussed in
chapter three and chapter four, the events that unfolded on March 30th, May 14th, June 1st and
September 7th 2018, exposed the IDF’s willingness to use military grade weaponry against a
defenceless population exercising their universal right to form an assembly. By shooting
unarmed Palestinians in fatal areas which in many cases resulted in their deaths, this thesis
propagates the notion that the Israeli military had indiscriminately killed innocent Palestinian
men, women, paramedics, journalists, children and the disabled with intent, throughout the
GMR, constituting as an act of democide.
In addition, this research paper established a number of minor conclusions. Firstly, it finds
that there is a strong culture of systematic impunity at an institutional level within the Israeli
military, granted to any soldier that had intentionally killed a Palestinian protester during the
GMR. Secondly, this study finds that the GMR was a civil protest, developed and maintained
by Gaza’s civil sector, not by Hamas or any other militant organisation in the region. Thirdly,
as chapter two, chapter three and chapter four had demonstrated, the state of Israel has
violated an extensive collection of international laws and conventions, designed to safeguard
the well-being of a said population.
Limitations:
To a degree, this project was affected by a number of limitations. Firstly, the scope of the
project was narrow, given that this study predominantly focused on the activities that
unfolded throughout the GMR alone. In order to strengthen the notion that the Israeli military
have committed multiple acts of democide against the Palestinian population in the region,
this project would have benefitted from engaging in a discussion that explored the form of
political violence exerted by the IDF in the West Bank and Jerusalem during times of dispute
or conflict.
Page 62
Another limitation of this research project lies within the researcher’s inability to collect
evidence that ultimately varied in its origin and presentation. As mentioned in the
introduction, the majority of the information gathered to support this research project largely
stemmed from academic databases and online search engines. To a strong degree, this paper
would have benefitted from field work experience, which would have granted the social
researcher the ability to speak with the residents of Gaza, documenting the significant events
that unfolded during the GMR, which would have ultimately strengthened the project’s
credibility.
Importance of the Research Project:
Despite relying on the information produced by academic databases and online search
engines, this thesis project presents a nuanced argument, supported by over one hundred and
twenty primary and secondary sources, deriving from Israeli, Palestinian and International
organisations and institutions that produced qualitative and quantitative information
discussing the violence taking place in Gaza throughout the GMR, thus strengthening the
integrity of the project’s argument. Another important aspect of this project lies in its ability
to develop our intellectual understanding behind the theoretical concept of democide. Tying a
relatively recent case study to a twentieth century theoretical concept that essentially
revitalises our awareness behind Rudolph Rummel’s theory.
Ultimately, this thesis paper wishes to conclude on the following notion.
Since 2006, Palestinians residing in the Gaza Strip are illegitimately targeted and killed by
the Israeli military who are in deep violation of Article II of the Human Rights Act (1998),
which specifically states that “nobody, including the government can try to end your life.”
316
In order to prevent future democidal acts of violence from occurring, the Israeli military must
be held effectively accountable in an international court for the war-crimes committed not
only throughout the GMR, but also within past military campaigns such as Operation
Protective Edge.
316
Equality and Human Rights Commission Human Rights Act ‘Article 2: Right to life.’ November 15th 2018. Accessed on
September 11th 2020. https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/human-rights-act/article-2-right-
life#:~:text=Everyone's%20right%20to%20life%20shall,2.
Page 63
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